Observing log Venus Transit
Plan: To view the transit of Venus across the Sun.
3:45 I pull up to East Beach and notice that many ASSNE members are already there. I move my truck in to position to block off a viewing area for all the club scopes. I set up and all is clear. The temp is a bit cool, I would say about mid 50s - low 60s with a light sea breeze. The sky is clear with a slight bit of fog with clouds moving in.
4:00 Clouds have over taken the moon making it less visible. No stars are able to be seen at this point and I start to grow concerned as the clouds seem to grow thicker still. Patiently I wait and occupy my time observing the moon between the clouds and looking off to the East which is still clear.
4:53 The glow of the sun is making its way above the horizon and I am getting anxious aiming my telescope in the direction of the rising sun. I remove my dust cover and replace it with my off axis Baader solar filter. I check the filter for any light leaks and none show up.
5:18 The sun is peering above the horizon and I try to see if I can position my scope to see it. The haze and fog on the horizon are so thick that you can actually look at the sun with the naked eye and finder scope. Both fog and haze are acting as a natural solar filter. The position of the sun and lack of brightness make it impossible to see the sun in the solar filter.
5:35 The sun is now bright enough to use the solar filter and I find aiming the dob very tricky with only a 4” off axis hole to view through. Finally after about 10 min with a 2” 32mm Astrola eyepiece I find the sun with Venus well beyond the half way point of its transit. I invite others over to view. The small off axis filter makes viewing difficult but the view is incredible. Not only am I seeing the sun and Venus but I am clearly seeing two sunspots slightly off center of the suns disk. I snap several pictures with my digital camera in hopes that maybe a few may come out ok.
5:55 The clouds have rolled in and the sun is behind a pretty heavy bank of them. I decide that the viewing will be over for me because if the sun peers through by the time I find it again with my dob it will be behind clouds again. I mingle with others from the club occasionally looking up to see the sun peer in and out of the clouds. I pack up my scope and look at what others were doing during viewing.
7:05 The sun has broken through the clouds with a big piece of sky now open and I decide to take my scope out again hoping to catch the third and fourth contact. Clouds continue to roll by giving some pretty neat views through the telescope. At times the image is eerie with the light orange sun and the pitch black dot of Venus. Many people who have packed up come by to look into my dob while the viewing is good.
7:?? I have not paid attention to the time but at this point I am snapping digital pictures as often as I can. Venus is near third contact and the image is very impressive. Finally Venus makes third contact reaching the limb of the sun and I never see the tear drop effect. It appears to me to touch the limb as a perfect sphere. Perhaps it was due to the haze and clouds. I continue to snap pictures off and view as Venus makes its way toward fourth contact. Clouds are moving in again but I am able to catch fourth contact before the clouds once again overtake the sun.
7:35 I once again pack it up satisfied that even with the clouds the Venus transit was a success. I was able to see Venus on the disk and third and fourth contact. This fore filled my objectives for this event. I say bye to all and make my way home.
Lessons Learned: Big lesson was I need to make a solar filter for my finderscope cause finding the sun with a small off axis filter is very difficult. Aiming the dob is a bit easier when you get behind it and aim it like a gun. A surprising lesson is that viewing the sun can actually be interesting and I plan on doing it more often.