Written by Photography, Science

A Fruitless Early Morning

The alarm was set for 4.00am.
I’d bought some Baader solar paper.
I’d made a solar filter for my camera, essentially following these instructions.
I was already for the last Transit of Venus that’ll be visible from Earth until 2117, and therefore, my lifetime.
Sadly, I hadn’t counted on the wonderful British summer.
Actually, that’s not true. I very much had counted on it. And for the last week, I’d been disconsolately refreshing the various weather sites to see what kind of cloud there’d be at 4.43am on 6 June. It was always going to be cloudy, if not wet as well. Fortunately, the rain held off.
The Transit of Venus was only visible in the UK briefly, between dawn at 4.43am and approximately an hour later. Using the very excellent Photographer’s Ephemeris app on my phone (seriously – if you’re any kind of photographer, this is an essential purchase), I was able to see exactly where there the sun would rise and at what position on the horizon. Less than half a mile from where I live, there’s an excellent position high over surrounding farmland. So I cycled out there to take a look.
But I knew it was in vain.
There were very occassional breaks in the cloud, but nowhere near the horizon where the sun was rising. I didn’t catch so much as a glimpse.
I was even joined by a chap who was also up early to have a look. Quite how he planned to do that I’m not sure, since he had no filters or equipment of any kind. And if there’s one thing everyone knows, it’s to not stare directly at the sun.
There was certainly the tail end of a dawn chorus to appreciate. But no Transit for me.
I shall instead make do with some of the amazing photographs that have been published online – not least many of those from NASA and others on their Flickr group.
Ironically, on my way into work later, the sun shone brightly. I guess that I can still use my camera filter to look for sunspots.
As an aside, there was a decent Horizon last night all about Venus, and its Transit. But it was oddly timed since it ended by explaining that you’d be best watching it with special filtered glasses. Except that at 10pm at night when the progamme finished, there was simply no way any viewer would be able to buy such filtered glasses before 4.45am the next morning. It’d have been much smarter to run the documentary – or that part of it – a week earlier.