Thursday, 7 June 2012

Venus transit 2012, June 6, Pattaya, Thailand

This was the second of my two Venus transits, and the last until the year 2117. So I was eagerly looking forward to this event. I had originally planned to return to Australia to view the transit in the Northern Territory, but, due to circumstances, this was not possible, so I observed the transit from my hotel balcony in Pattaya. This may seem an overly comfortable way to view the eclipse, but it was effective and the balcony provided a local hight point.

To observe I used my trusty Sony DSC-HX5V camera, and a number 11 welding glass. This glass was not sufficiently dark to safely observe visually, but it was entirely adequate for camera work. 
Initially, I was not optimistic about the weather. It is the rainy season in Thailand, and most days, and certainly most mornings had been cloudy. Even less propitious the day before the transit had been overcast, while there had been a thunderstorm off the coast the night before. So, I was pleasantly surprised when Wednesday morning I awoke to see only very light cloud in the pre-dawn sky, and every sign that this cloud would dissipate with sunrise, which it did.

My local horizon, even from a 2nd floor balcony, was high, so I could not see the sun until an hour after sunrise ~ 07.40. However, after that time I started snapping happily away. One good thing about photographing the sun, it is the one field of astro photography where there is no shortage of light! I decided that a set of photographs every 15mins was adequate. I took several at the time of mid-transit 08.31. From then on the transit seemed almost anti-climatic, I kept thinking that this was the last Venus transit I would see. I did sneak a few peeks through the welding glass, the disk of Venus was distinct. Again, as at the 2004 transit, I was surprised at how big it was. From Pattaya I could see the egress, and I managed to take some photos of this terminal phase of the transit, but my optical setup was not sufficient to allow for accurate timings.

For the final half hour of the transit the sun was too high to view from my balcony, so I had to come down to the street to take my photos. My photographing the sun provided some minor amusement for the Thais.

Overall, the transit was as good as it could have been. I saw it, both visually and photographically. And, I saw all of it I could expect to see from my location. In total, about four hours of transit. I am content with that. I recall, many decades ago in High School, thinking about this transit. I recall wondering what the transit would be like. Now I have seen both. One of my goals.

June 6 GMT+7 (morning)  12.93 N  100.88 E  25m
ingress exterior: 05:12:07 ingress interior: 05:29:57
Sunrise: 05.53
transit centre: 08:30:59
egress interior: 11:32:29 egress exterior: 11:49:51

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