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Astronomers prepare for 'Transit of Venus'

Original post made on Jun 5, 2012

Peninsula residents will have the chance to see Venus travel in front of the sun on Tuesday -- an event that won't occur again for more than 100 years.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, June 4, 2012, 2:59 PM

Comments (6)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2012 at 8:37 am

The Channel 7 meteorologist said last night to use binoculars to view this rather than the naked eye. I think she meant a telescope with filter. Do not use binoculars to look at the sun.


Posted by William, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 5, 2012 at 9:29 am

Wow, Channel 7 said that? No, please DO NOT use binoculars to view this event unless you have proper solar filters. What you CAN do with binoculars is turn them around and project an image of the sun on something white - cover one side of the binoculars first. Limit the amount of time you do this to avoid damaging the binoculars.

Or just join us at either Vista Hill in Foothills Park or at the Foothill College Observatory, where we will have safe solar telescopes for you to look through.

William Phelps
PAS


Posted by QUESTION, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 5, 2012 at 11:15 am

Can one use a pin hole camera and watch it the same way we could during the eclipse the other week?


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 5, 2012 at 12:59 pm

A pinhole doesn't make a very big image unless the screen is far away, and then the image gets really dim, unless the pinhole is large, but a larger pinhole gives a blurrier image. No win situation, but try it anyway. I suspect Venus is too small to resolve with a pinhole.

Venus is barely big enough to see with your eyes through a filter unmagnified. Venus is really black, darker than any sunspot, so the contrast is great if you have good focus.

As William said, binoculars are best used (frontwards) to project an image out of the eyepiece onto a white piece of paper 2 or 3 feet away. More light and a bigger image than a pinhole. You'll need a steady hand or a tripod, and some playing around with the focus knob.

I myself have duck-taped the black plastic from official sun eclipse glasses over the front of my small cheap 10x25 binoculars to get a direct magnified view. You REALLY DON'T want the filter to slip off or your retina is toast. For telescope or binocs, the filter goes over the front, never at the eyepiece or you might see smoke from the concentrated sunlight, followed by burning eyeball.

Best bet for this once-in-a-lifetime event is to find experienced observers with the right equipment. The transit goes on for hours, so this is much less frenzied than the precious seconds of a total solar eclipse.

Sure hope the clouds abate.


Posted by Danielle, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm

using black plastic from official sun eclipse sunglasses with binoculars is not recommended, it will damage your eyes

it is not designed for use with magnifying devices such as binoculars or cameras


Posted by William, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 6, 2012 at 10:50 am

My thanks to everyone who joined us on Vista Hill to view the transit - you were all great! The next star party on Vista Hill is June 23, hope to see you then.
William


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