The transit of Venus has come and gone, consigned to the historical past books as in all probability essentially the most-watched such occasion in history. I went to Hawaii to observe the transit from the Onizuka Middle for Worldwide Astronomy Mauna Kea Customer Information Station together with 10 members and buddies of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Toronto Centre. We set out on Sunday, June 3 at just after 11 a.m. EDT and arrived at our resort in Hilo on the big Island at simply before 9:00 p.m. Not having slept on the planes, we had been all very drained by the point we checked in. Fortunately, the restaurant workers decided to remain open long enough for us to have a late dinner earlier than collapsing into bed.
Monday was spent taking part in tourist, visiting the Rainbow Falls in Hilo, and checking out the Volcanoes National Park. Whereas Hilo was its common, rainy self, the clouds and mist lifted whereas we were at Kilauea in order that we might see the exercise in the central crater in the caldera. It was an Women’s Star Wars Battlefront Princess Leia Custom Long Sleeve T Shirts impressive sight. As soon as we returned to the hotel, it was time to take a look at gear for the large event next day. Logging on to the Web, it was considerably disturbing to see the weather forecast for Mauna Kea the subsequent day: On the summit zero to 20 % cloud cowl with high winds, temperatures near freezing and 50 p.c chance of fog. Uh, oh…
My electronic mail inboxes had about 200 new messages acquired since Sunday morning, with quite a few final-minute requests for info on safe solar viewers and filters for cameras and telescopes. At the end of April, I spoke at a Transit of Venus Symposium held at the University of Toronto, and my discuss along with presentations of the other audio system had been posted on YouTube by the University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection, the organizers of the symposium. I suppose lots of the inquirers had seen the YouTube video, since it garnered over eleven,000 hits by Sunday night. Being “on the street” made it difficult to respond to the entire inquiries, although I tried my finest to take action before heading off to mattress.
We have been picked up at our lodge at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning by drivers Wendell and Steven with four-wheel drive vans to hold us to the Visitor Center. We loaded our stuff aboard the vans and headed for Mauna Kea. Though it was cloudy over Hilo, as we drove up the Saddle Street, the clouds began to raise, and earlier than long we could see clear blue sky over both Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Reaching the Customer Center, our drivers had been directed to park within the almost full parking lot where we unloaded our equipment. The grounds were teeming with both informal and critical observers. Lo and behold, I met up with Dave McCarter of the RASC London Centre and his wife, who had set up a small refractor with photo voltaic filter, and were there as volunteers to help the middle staff with the day’s outreach program. We had a nice chat about what was going on at the positioning. Several members of the group had been a bit unsteady on their feet as a result of altitude, and Steven was allowed to drive them as much as Hale Poaku (generally known as HP by observatory staff), the observers’ residence where we had been to have lunch after observing first and second contacts, then head to the summit to visit the Gemini North Observatory.
We successfully observed the beginning of the transit, though the contact occasions we recorded weren’t very exact. We broke for lunch, then met with Joy Pollard, the Gemini North outreach officer, who carried out a safety briefing. The 9 who had been going to the summit went all the way down to the Customer Middle from HP to catch the shuttle bus to the summit, getting the news that not only was it clear up there, but that there was a gentle breeze and a temperature of about 40鎺矲 — not unhealthy. No person was allowed on the summit with out heat clothes. Evidently, heaps of tourists in shorts and T-shirts have been turned away — had been they pondering? Did they actually anticipate it could be balmy up there? A lot of the 8-mile trip was over a really bumpy dusty street that actually stimulates the bladder… thankfully the final couple of miles have been easy pavement.
Alighting from the bus on the summit, one quickly realizes that it is not easy getting used to the altitude. That final few hundred meters strolling uphill from the bus stop to the Gemini North was a real wrestle not only due to the chilly wind, but also the pounding coronary heart and the lack of breath. As soon as inside the reception corridor, Joy tested our blood oxygen, and three of us, together with yours really, received oxygen bottles since we have been dangerously low. That helped so much.
The tour of the facility went and not using a hitch. That’s one Bang humungous telescope! It has a mirror 8.1 meters in diameter and only about six inches thick. Active optics actuators help to keep up the mirror’s form as gravity distorts it in the varied directions the telescope is pointed, whereas adaptive optics is used on the secondary to eradicate distortion of star photographs (scintillation) because of the air currents above the telescope. The control room seems to be just like the bridge of a starship on Star Trek with a financial institution of screens relaying all kinds of knowledge concerning the state of the telescope, the thing it is pointed at, and the weather circumstances exterior.
Earlier than leaving the observatory, Joy examined everybody’s blood oxygen ranges, and the three of us appeared to be in immediate trouble as soon as the oxygen masks had been taken off. She determined to take us right down to HP in her car as a medical emergency, whereas the others took the shuttle bus. We started down the mountain, and by the time we got to the second last switchback, we have been already feeling significantly better. However Mauna Kea had another ace up its sleeve — the tire strain sensor turned on as we entered the penultimate curve. This was not excellent news. Joy pressed on and bought us to HP, where we found the correct front tire nearly deflated. Discuss luck. We thanked her for her assist, collected our gear from the HP dining room, and set as much as observe the final of the transit.
The sun disappeared behind the cinder cones to the west of HP before we could see 3rd contact, but we had been capable of image the transit till about 6:19 p.m. Then it was time to interrupt the gear down, pile back in the vans and head again to Hilo, where it was raining yet once more.
On the internet after dinner for the first time on Tuesday, there were requests for information as late as an hour earlier than the transit began! Why??? I used to be glad to read that a lot of our buddies at home within the Higher Toronto Area, and throughout a lot of North America have been in a position to see at the least among the transit.
So ended the 2012 transit of Venus for my group. We can’t be around for the subsequent one in 2117, but a minimum of a few us have now seen this century’s two transits of Venus.