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Venus Transit, Washington DC, Jun 5 2012.

We went up to Ft. Reno Park, which is the highest point (*) in DC. Venus was supposed to start passing across the Sun at 6:09 PM, but due to the clouds, we weren't in a real hurry to make it on time. The transit lasted 7 hours -- til well after sunset on the east coast.

Originally I was planning on taking a silhouette of the Sun, Venus, and the Capitol -- I'd scouted it out and found a place near Eastern Market that they should all be visible together at the same time and with the Capitol sized properly. But due to the weather I gave up that plan, which would have been completely clouded out anyhow.

(*) The Washington Monument is 150 feet higher, but it's still closed from earthquake damage. The antennas at Fort Reno are actually higher than the top of the monument, however.

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As of 6:30 PM, this is the cloud situation were we looking at. Pretty dismal. Emile, Michele, and Saffron pose with their eclipse glasses and pizza. The Sun is... right in the middle of the picture. So we played on the hill and talked with others there as the clouds rolled over.
But then after most of an hour of waiting, the sun finally found a low optical-depth patch and was visible! We could see it for about one minute. We were still looking through many many clouds, but I was able to take a few pictures. As a bonus, due to the clouds there was no solar filter necessary! (Actually, I'd tried it out beforehand and realized that with my camera at on its least-sensitive settings, it can take a pic of the direct solar disk without saturating. Nikon D4, 1/8000, 340 mm, f/45.)

There were maybe 50 people on the hill with us (a few with telescopes), though I think we may have been the only ones to actually see it.

Venus! There are apparently some good sunspots on the disk, but none visible here!
The eclipse glasses make for good pics, but were totally useless. They were just too dark. Good for mid-day eclipses, but not when nearing sunset, or with clouds.
Pop Tart wrappers (6 for $2.79 at the Brookville Market) were much more useful. They have maybe 10x the transmission of the official solar glasses.
Fin force-feeds me the rest of his raspberry Pop Tart.
And then Fin goes on to eat the telescope! Mmmm.....

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Henry Throop

Last modified Sat Jun 9 16:03:35 2012