Flamsteed Astronomy Society

Watercolour by Martin Male.   Martin used a 60mm Opticron Telescope, x20 magnification, Baader Solar film.   Observation at 06:30 BST June 8, 2004 near Bolougne-sur-Gesse, France (43˚ 17.8N  000˚ 44.4E)

Martin Male writes —


“Jane and I travelled to a rural location some twenty miles north of the Pyrenees for a short holiday, which just happened to coincide with the Transit of Venus! I had looked up the predicted timing for the event at our location, and got up early the morning before the Transit to make sure our viewing site would not be hampered by trees or buildings.


 All looked well the night before as we went to bed. I woke up about 3 A.M., vaguely aware that something was wrong – there was no moonlight, due to low clouds! Looking out of the window, I could just discern low, fast moving but fairly thin cloud coming up from the south.  We discussed the possibility of driving somewhere clear, but as the cloud had not been forecast and we had no internet link to look where it would be clear, we trusted that the cloud would burn off as the Sun rose…..


 There were indeed some bright patches and even small areas of blue sky as 0520 UT approached, but we missed first contact. We did get a brief view of Venus about halfway onto the limb of the Sun, but the cloud thickened again and we missed second contact.


 The cloud did clear about twenty minutes after second contact and we were able to view the rest of the event uninterrupted. At times one really got a “3D” impression of the planet passing in front of the Sun, at other times it looked like a hole had been drilled in it!


 I timed third and fourth contacts using a GPS set. I was two seconds out for the predicted third contact, but nearly two minutes out for the fourth. The temperature was 32 C by then and the air was very turbulent, rendering observation difficult. We saw no sign of the “Black Drop” effect.


 We were of course disappointed to have missed the first few minutes, but we have been generally blessed with clear weather in the past - we saw the Sun totally eclipsed in 1999 in France, and of course the Transit of Mercury last year in clear weather, so Sod’s Law had to catch up with us sometime!”


Watercolour of Transit at about 06:30 BST.  Using a terrestrial bird-spotting scope.  It was seen ‘right way up’ with some colour fringing due to the modest optical quality of the scope.   This was a fleeting glimpse—there was not time to use the 10" Meade as it would have taken longer to line-up with the higher magnification, and thus miss it altogether!   Shame to have missed 1st and 2nd contacts, but it did add some drama seeing it thus!


Martin Male

Martin took a 10" Meade SCT with Baader Solar Filter and the 40mm Coronado.  Martin used the Meade for his main observations of the Transit because it has better resolution than the Coronado.

Anthony Stokes writes —


I remained in Brentwood, holding an open morning at my observatory here. Set up two telescopes and large binoculars for viewers to look through. Although I did not see the black drop effect at all, I did notice the Venusian upper atmosphere illuminated outer aureole at ingress and egress (150mm F8 refractor at around 120x ) ~ which I had not at all been expecting:- so I had to check with other observers postings to make sure it wasn't optical illusion or delusional !


 I did the same as during last year's Mercury transit; i.e. putting one telescope on the planetary solar transit, and another telescope on the other inner planet, so that observers could see and contrast the views of Venus and Mercury on the same dates and hours.


 Whereas during the 2003 transit of Mercury it was Mercury appearing as the large black dot versus Venus appearing as a smaller brighter dot ~ this time it was Venus as large black dot and Mercury as a much smaller bright dot: quite an interesting comparison and opportunity of explaining the relative planetary motions to the non-astronomically minded public.

Transit of Venus—More FAS Reports