The Great Venus Transit
It’s a rather dreary, depressing day in Baltimore. A dense fog hung in the air as I was making my way to work this morning and that was rather fitting for the mood the entire city was in. After another heartbreaking Ravens loss in the playoffs, my energy was sapped and definitely did not have the motivation to write something on this page today. But then I saw the front page of space.com. The headline was about the super rare Venus solar transit that is set to take place this summer. As a budding astronomer I was obviously intrigued by this event. My dad and I are exploring the possibility of building a telescope together and Mother Nature just put a deadline on our as of yet un-started project, June 5th, 2012. That is the day when our closest planetary neighbor will make a rare transit across the face of the sun that is visible from Earth. This will be one celestial show you do not want to miss seeing as the next Venus solar transit won’t be until 2117! Surely nobody alive today will be able to see the next one. Although the “Great Venus Transit” will be visible to the naked eye it is definitely not recommended that you attempt to do so…you’ll go blind! The best way to go will be to outfit your telescope or binoculars with white light solar filters to protect your eyes and any photographic equipment you may be using.
But as it stands now I currently have no telescope to view said transit. So we must begin with all haste! Since this is my first attempt at telescope making and mirror grinding and all that fun stuff I’m gonna go with purchasing a mirror kit. I haven’t purchased anything yet but here are some helpful website I’ve used to gather information:
- telescopemaking.org Covers many of the basics of how telescopes function and the various kinds of telescopes; basic instructions for mirror grinding and telescope assembly
- Mel Bartel’s Amateur Telescope Making Focuses primarily on mirror making and all its intricacies
- scopemaking.net Pretty good site with detailed instructions for all phases of scope making
I’m planning on constructing an 8″ reflector that’s not too big that you can’t transport it anywhere. I will post updates as progress is made along with pictures, and advice and problems I run into. Wish me luck! Also best of luck to you as well if you’re considering building your own scope!
I leave you wish a pic of the last Venus solar transit from 2004. The planet appears as just a dark spot on the sun’s surface but when seen through a telescope the planetary disc becomes apparent.