Archive for Astronomy

Transit of Venus “Generates” Energy

Sharing my experience of the Transit of Venus with everyone…

"Images from photographic plates of the T...

“Images from photographic plates of the Transit of Venus” Deutsch: Venustransit am 6. Dezember 1882 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Chicago, as in many parts of the country, many people were not treated to a complete experience of the annular eclipse last month. Thus when the day came for the Venus transit event, I thought to myself, “If we have good weather and I am feeling up to it, I’ll try to get in that experience!”

Fortunately our weather cooperated perfectly and the Adler Planetarium held a viewing event… and offered free general admission, which was a pleasant perk for the day. Getting to the Adler is so easy on the #146 bus- takes you straight to the Planetarium and a stunning view of one of America’s best lakefronts. Well, on that day I took my binoculars just to catch a good view of the area, some blank paper, snacks, and the happiness of being able to see the special event.

Around 5 P.M. the transit began, and that while I was standing in a long line of people waiting to use one of the telescopes, a very nice Coronado SolarMax model fitted with one of the excellent H-alpha filters that turns the image orange-red but provides fine viewing conditions. That is when I put my binoculars to use, turned the small end toward the paper and focused in order to get a reverse image of Venus just starting to cross the sun. Now I do not have to look directly into the lenses in order to know the image is projecting properly onto the paper. The bright image comes into view when the lenses are at the correct angle, and a dot of light shows up in the lens area. All you have to do is maneuver the binoculars until the image projects on the paper, and cover one of the lenses so a single image shows up.

As I waited, Venus edged into view and then I was able to look at it through the SolarMax.

After that I and hundreds of others went inside to see the live feed from Mauna Kea observatory, courtesy of NASA, which provided views in three colors of filter: purple, white, and the orange-red.

It was very nice of the Adler team and some other observers who made telescopes available for the thousands who came to share the event. People of all ages showed up, from the elderly to the young family out to witness something unique to share with the kids. Being around all those fine people made the event even more special. Astronomy has not lost its romance, nor has it lost its magnetic attraction. Science and technology, society and the draw of the marvelous and the beautiful in nature…certainly everything came out for the best on June 5.

Sunspots were also visible (and in fact are today, with a fine cluster visible even with the reverse-binocular method of projecting the image on white paper). An observer at the transit event brought along one of the “sun-spotter” instruments which projected the white light onto the center of the instrument.

Sadly such an event will not be visible for another 105 years, so everyone there had the chance to mutually benefit from something to talk about, dream about, share around, write about, photograph, and research for decades. People in Chicago shared that event with people the world over, with folks atop a mountain and folks at sea level (or at least at lake level). We learned, we stood in silence and reverence, we shared and laughed, we witnesses, and we took home vivid memories.

Thanks again to the staff at the Adler Planetarium, the keepers of the stellar Chicago lakefront, the CTA, the drivers for that day on the #146 route who kept everyone safe and got us there in time, the Chicago Park District, and everyone who brought out their telescopes.

Venus over Witton Lakes

Venus over Witton Lakes (Photo credit: ringsofsaturnrock)

Divi Logan and ┬«EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, ┬ę2012.


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Deep, Dark, and Rich: Night Lights. A Poem.

Washed in purple-black and royal blue,

Twilight shades our yard as evening turns to night.

A free light show for my daily pleasure throughout life

in the total – surround sky – theater of our quiet home zone.

Star colors bright and vivid, orange to blue and gem like sparkle

Studded those celestial realms with twinkling and constellar spectacle.

Meteor showers made the sight of awe as to silence small and ordinary talk,

Trails of white, blue, green and exploding orange blazed above the

grassy lawns, streets, and silent buildings

as I soaked of the solitude in the serene setting

of our safe haven.


The evening was pristinely clear, quiet and subdued –

Mother and I went outside to look at the velvety night sky,

and soon turned to go inside for the night; but when I turned and looked up

Over the southwestern point of our roof appeared a glowing, fiery -rusty yer vivid orange

meteor of such size that I could see it break up, explode it seemed,

twice and into at least four pieces. Flames appeared to stream from it as its

violent break-up continued.

But there was never a sound, and I was in awe, having only heard of such

events until that moment.

Mom did not see it… I saw something special and stood in silence…

The silence of an evening in the company of nature and the cosmos. -D-

With thanks to Mom and Dad for providing me that safe and natural area to watch the stars and enjoy times of dreaming and contemplation. – DLL –

Divi Logan, Chicago

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