2012-06-06

Venus between us

The past month has been filled with wondrous astronomical viewing events: a lunar perigee, a solar eclipse (during the lunar apogee), a partial lunar eclipse, and yesterday's transit of Venus across the Sun. I've written about astronomy events in the past, such as the lunar perigee of March 2011 and the lunar eclipse of December 2011, so it should come as no surprise that I was thoroughly enjoying these recent events.

Sometimes the sky conditions at my location made viewing of an event less than ideal, but I have learned to make the viewing experience, not the sight itself, the focal point of my excitement. For example, during the recent solar eclipse, I put my focus on creating a fun and memorable experience for my daughter; hopefully, a life-lasting memory of the first time she watched a solar eclipse. We talked about what was happening, how it was happening, used different tools and techniques to safely observe the eclipse, and -- when the clouds rolled in -- we enjoyed the spectacle of a cloud's "golden" lining.

The planets of the solar system, including Earth, all orbit around the Sun. Sometimes the planets orbiting closer to the Sun than us pass directly in front of the Sun from our perspective here on Earth. Yesterday, a once-in-a-lifetime event took place when Venus passed through such a perspective. Many people again turned their eyes toward the skies -- hopefully, with proper eye-protection -- to watch our nearest neighbor move across our view of the Sun.

With a planet of 7 billion humans, I knew from the start that the event would be documented and shared [NASA + YouTube] by many. So, I enriched my experience of this event, making it unique and memorable in my own way. I borrowed a friend's welding mask -- making sure it was an appropriate shade rating -- to watch the transit of Venus. At times, clouds blocked my view of the Sun, but I had my computer close at hand with a Universe Today live webcast of views from areas where the sky was clear. As the Sun set, ending the viewing for my area, I took a special photo of the Sun (and Venus) as they set nearby Horsetooth Rock (a local landmark).


Photo taken by Indy in Fort Collins, Colorado.

There will be many more astronomical events throughout my lifetime, but it will not be until 2117 that Venus will again pass directly between Earth and the Sun. Personally, I am happy that I have been able to make these recent experiences fun and memorable for myself and those closest to me. Life is full of opportunity, some we take and some we miss. Like the "golden lining" of the cloud that my daughter and I marveled at during the solar eclipse, it's how you embrace an experience that defines your memory of it.
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