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The Transit of Venus across the Sun - June 5, 2012
Photos Taken in Black River Falls, Wisconsin

Click on images for larger view in separate window.

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This is my basic setup: A pair of binoculars is attached to a tripod such that the image of the sun comes out of the eyepieces and is projected onto an appropriate hand-held "screen" which I can photograph with my free hand. The hanky is knotted in such a way as to stabilize the binoculars against the tripod. I covered one of the lenses and tried a few screens while Venus was moving away from the edge of the sun.
By the way, the hotel you see in the background (i.e., the always reasonably-priced Best Western Arrowhead Lodge) is where I ultimately decided to stay that night.
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I began by holding a piece of cardboard where I expected the image to be projected, and immediately Venus came into view. I didn't realize that the dark spot which is the Venus shadow would show up as clearly as it did, as one could expect the glare of the sun to wipe it out.
The sun is not oriented the same way in these photos, and the binoculars flip the image vertically.

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It also got on my pants. I had voted in the Wisconsin Governor recall election earlier that day, wearing mixed-ticket colors: red shirt and blue pants. (I always vote mixed-ticket when the opportunity presents itself, being a trouble-maker.) Needless to say, this Venus thing totally took my mind off politics.

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Looking through my briefcase, I found an orange note card which seemed appropriate. By moving the card I was able to get the image reasonably well focused.

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Taking the image and subsequently (with the aid of Photoshop and Microsoft Word) pressing the sun into a rounder shape and adding a bit of general contrast, I got this result. I was determined not to enhance Venus specifically, and I think the uneven appearance of the sun was basically due to the texture of the note card. I didn't wait for Venus to move significantly farther, so this is my parting shot. You can barely see some sunspots, and the fuzzy image which appears to be behind Venus could possibly be one.

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I have used this method with binoculars to observe solar eclipses in the past, and this way of safely viewing the sun has been around for centuries. Here is William Crabtree observing a Venus transit in the comfort of his attic observatory.

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