Amateurs take their shot at Venus in transit (pictures)
The second closest planet to the sun made for a spectacular shadowy show that tickled astronomers around the world this week. Crave corrals some truly extraordinary and unique images from the once-in-a-lifetime event.
Setting up shop
On June 5 (and June 6 in some places), the world gets to witness a once-in a-lifetime celestial happening -- the transit of Venus, a super-rare astronomical event in which it's possible to view Venus' passage across the sun from Earth.
Why "once in a lifetime?" The transit of Venus "occurs in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits 8 years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years," according to Bill Nye's Planetary Society. The last transit took place on June 8, 2004, and the next transit occurs on December 11, 2117.
We've already seen some great shots snapped by CNET photographer James Martin today at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, but we astronomy geeks at Crave wanted to see even more. So we scoured Flickr and found a few nice people around this vast Earth willing to share shots of the silhouetted Venus journeying across the sun. We also mixed in a couple of NASA grabs for good measure.
Photographer H.L. Tam captured some amateur astronomers setting up a telescope with a solar filter at the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong.
Using an iPhone 4S, Melissa Bullock of Melville, N.Y., captured this amazing image of the shadow of Venus and an overhead airplane passing the sun. This safe method of viewing the brightest star in our solar system involves projecting a magnified view of it onto a piece of paper from a reflector telescope.
One hour into the celestial event, Kelly Schwartz of Langdon, N.D., shot this spooky image using a Canon 60D dSLR camera with a Tamron 70-300 lens. "I'm just glad I got to take part in the last one for my lifetime," Schwartz told Crave.
Kevin Ward witnessed the transit from his home in Portland, Ore., by projecting a magnified view of the sun through a reflector telescope onto a piece of paper. Learn more about this method and how to safely watch the sun from Doug Duncan, an employee at the Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences of the University of Colorado.
Amateur photographer Kari Kolbeinsson captured this gorgeous image of Venus' transit against a bright setting sun just a few steps from his home in Reykjavik, Iceland. He used a Nikon D5100 dSLR and a Nikkor 300mm f4 lens with a TC14 teleconverter.
James Jensen, a student at Jacksonville State University in Glencoe, Ala., took a picture of this unique reflecting telescope setup used to witness the passage of Venus. "They stretched a Wal-Mart bag over the viewer so that the image of the sun is projected onto the bag, and Venus shows up as a shadow," Jensen told Crave.
Graphic designer Andres Colmenares created this amusing representation of Venus (in Adobe Illustrator) that pays homage to the infamous "E.T." scene where the crafty alien lifts a group of boys on bicycles into flight to evade police. Colmenares runs a design company called Wawawiwa and sells his work on the art marketplace society6.
Flickr employee Tim Miller snapped this image of co-worker John Ubante's Canon 60D dSLR camera LCD screen showing Venus passing the sun in San Francisco. Ubante used a EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS USM less and an EF 2X II extender.
This NASA artist's conception of the view of the sun from Venus gives a better idea of the scorching hot viewing experience from that planet. Venus' carbon dioxide-infused atmosphere creates a mega greenhouse effect that keeps the surface temperature a sizzling 752 degrees Fahrenheit.
Have a look at CNET's additional transit of Venus gallery, including a few more action shots and a unique perspective from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
Using an extreme ultraviolet filter, NASA observers captured this image of Venus passing the sun near the upper chromosphere and lower transition region. "The bright areas show places where the plasma has a high density," NASA explains of the violent surface of the sun.
Check out this video of a sped-up Venus trotting in front of the sun, courtesy of NASA: