The Transit of Venus


An event not seen since 1882 seemed the ideal opportunity for a holiday somewhere warm, and interesting. Whilst traveling always makes the taking of equipment difficult, missing the event due to fickle English weather meant I was prepared to for go the great images I would get from the toys at home, and settle for something a little more modest, and be sure to see the event. I sure as hell needed a good holiday too.

As it happened whilst contemplating where I would like to view the transit, I received a note from Explorer Tours to say they were running a Transit of Venus trip to Egypt. Well that settled it then, Egypt it was to be, and the trip booked within 10 mins of the flyer arriving through my letter box.

Obviously gear would have to be minimum, so I decided on the usual video gear, JVC KY-F55 3chip camera, ra driven mount, and the 500mm zoom lens which would give me full disc diameter horizontally, and about half disc vertically on my video walkman. That seemed like a not too untidy package. Oh yes, and a cover to try and reduce the heat!


The location for the transit was actually our hotel in Sharm El Sheikh called Ocean Club. More of a motel than a hotel, but it was great place to stay with excellent staff. With some assistance from Jenny of Explorers I managed to set up a small facility on top of the hotel roof, and run power from Helen & Davids room. With the heat expected to be high 30's C, I arranged some brollys, and tables etc to help in keeping us going through the almost 6 hour marathon. Plenty of water, and reasonable access for a beer.

As it was temperatures were recorded at between 43 - 45 C in the shade at the height of the Transit, and about 52C in the sun. That roof reflecting the heat upwards was almost unbearable.


The day of the transit was crisp and clear, they don't have clouds here often, and despite problems with camera over heating the day before so meaning not an accurately aligned mount we waited for the moment. Transit time duly came and the disc duly appeared at approximately 0813 local time. What I wasn't expecting was that it would take a complete 20 mins for the full disc to get on the surface. I left the video to run for the first 40 mins, and the last 40 mins, and also a few mins every 30 mins just to be able to get representative frames from the video.

My timing device launched itself onto the ground, so times were only going to be approximate from my mobile, so I didn't really bother too much, and just enjoyed the spectacle.

Here are a few stills taken from the video tape showing typical positions etc. The main shots are approximately 30 mins apart.



Here is a montage showing the passage of Venus over the suns disc over the 6 hrs


Here are a couple of animations Ingress and Egress. They take a while to load, but are interesting none the less.

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The location was quite good, and we were joined on the roof by the BBC who had flown in the day before to run a live satellite link here. They had a touch more gear, and spent time imaging using a SKY 90, and a 90mm H alpha setup.



Here is the Beeb's set up, and below is the live feed around the facility generated by Nick James so we could watch inside if needed.



Here are a few general shots of the folks having view of the transit with various instruments



Well I hope that gives you an idea of the event. Guess just need to start thinking about the next one in 2012. Best get a bit better planned for that one. Seem to recall South East Asia may be my best move then.

Bucharesti 1999 . ............... Zimbabwe 2001

Transit of Mercury May 7th 2003 .......Transit of Mercury November 15th 1999......

Annular Eclipse May 31st 2003

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