Sorry no photographic proof from the last time though I’m expecting to have some in June this year.
It sounds almost unbelievable doesn’t it?
Well, it is something that you will be able to do too, if the conditions are right where you are this June 6th. I highly recommend that you do it if
you can. It’s hard to explain why, but it feels special knowing I’ve done such a thing that sounds so amazing and I wanted to share this feeling
8th of June 2004, I had set up an eclipse viewer also known as a pinhole projector outside in order to view the Transit of Venus safely. That occurs
when the planet Venus passes in front of the Sun, from our view on Earth. It’s not something that happens very often, as Earth and Venus do not
share the same orbital plane.
The last Transit of Venus before the 2004 Transit was back in December 1882.
The next Transit of Venus will be in 105.5 years in 2117, then 8 years after that in 2125, then another 121.5 years after that, then 8 years after
that one, with this pattern repeating over and over.
8, 121.5, 8, 105.5, 8, 121.5, 8, 105.5, 8, 121.5, 8, 105.5 etc
For those of you who might be around long enough, and for anyone else who is interested, NASA have a full list of Transits of Venus from 2000 BCE to
4000 CE on their website as well as a short description of the transit:
& of course, there is also the wiki: wikipedia.org/wiki/Transit_of_Venus
The eclipse viewer/pinhole projector was made using two A4 sized sheets of card. One white sheet, placed flat and a black one, stuck down to one side
of the white sheet forming a hinge join. I made a small round pinhole in the centre of the black card. The Idea was to place it on a table and hold
the black card at an angle so the Sun shone through the hole onto the white paper.
It was cloudy where I was when Venus began crossing the Sun but I did get a few breaks in the clouds when the black dot of Venus’ shadow could be
seen in the round projection of the Sun on the white paper. By the time the transit had begun, because of the angle of the Sun, I had to modify the
projector by sticking the white card on a wall and holding the black card freely in my hand.
Next time, I plan to use a telescope to project the Sun onto a card attached to a frame that moves with the telescope so it won’t matter what angle
the Sun will be at.
Anyway, at some point, I had the idea to use my hand as a screen for the bright circle the Sun was projecting through the tiny pinhole in the black
card. Then as the round light of the sun was shining in a circle on my hand a small dark dot within that circle could be seen, that was the shadow of
That was how I held the shadow of the planet Venus in the palm of my hand. And that is how you can do it in June this year, weather and your position
on Earth at the time permitting.
I missed my chance of holding Mercury’s shadow during the last Transit of Mercury in 2006. Thankfully they happen more frequently than the Transit
of Venus, about 13 to 14 a century, so I’m hoping to hold it too during the next one in 2016 and or after that the one in 2019.
If you miss the 2012 Transit of Venus, you’ll have to wait 105 and a half years to catch the next one for the chance to hold her shadow in your
hand. So get your pinhole cards ready and perhaps even head on down to Australia for an even better opportunity to view this magic moment.