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June 8, 2004 -- Venus in Transit

This morning, gnomi and I woke up at 4 AM to witness the Transit of Venus. She wrote a very complete account, which can be found here: http://www.livejournal.com/~gnomi/82953.html

All I'd like to add is that I had people sign my copy of the 2000 book about the transit, and I took notes of my observations in the same book. I'm grateful to all the friends who showed up there.

Let's all do this again on June 6, 2012.


I'm really sorry I missed seeing the Transit with you guys. Maybe 2012.
Which book?
JUNE 8, 2004 -- VENUS IN TRANSIT by Eli Maor (Princeton University Press, 2000).

The softcover was published this year with simply the title VENUS IN TRANSIT.

I had people sign the inside front cover, and I wrote my observations there as well.
So it's a book about the transit? Or is the title coincidence?
Yes, it's a book about the transit. To quote myself from the initial post in this thread, "All I'd like to add is that I had people sign my copy of the 2000 book about the transit, and I took notes of my observations in the same book."

Interestingly enough, just a few months ago Prometheus Books published another book about the transit, this one called THE TRANSITS OF VENUS, by William Sheehan and John Edward Westfall. It looks even cooler, and I'll probably pick it up when I can.

But I'll probably not bother with The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard. To quote from Amazon, "It tells the story of two orphan sisters, Caroline and Grace Bell, as they leave Australia to start a new life in post-war England. What happens to these young women--seduction and abandonment, marriage and widowhood, love and betrayal--becomes as moving and wonderful and yet as predestined as the transits of the planets themselves. Gorgeously written and intricately constructed, Hazzard's novel is a story of place: Sydney, London, New York, Stockholm; of time: from the fifties to the eighties; and above all, of women and men in their passage through the displacements and absurdities of modern life."

Then again, maybe I will....
It would be interesting to know if the two books about the transit had very different things to say.
From the Amazon description, it looks like the second book may be a much more complete book, with a lot more historical information. It also seems to go into much more detail about how to observe the 2012 transit, which the book I have does not.

It's ironic, but on the other hand it makes sense. The Eli Maor book came out in 2000, so he had plenty of time to build up sales for the 2004 transit. The other one came out just in March; I imagine they put in a lot about 2012 in order to make sure the book was still viable after the first transit.

Still scratching my head over the novel... :-)
Can't help you there!
My journal notes from the day of the Transit.

We went to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; they had opened up their roof for viewing, and had a 9-inch refractor in a dome for us to use.
Here are some of my notes from the day:

Nomi and I got on line at 4:38 AM. We were soon joined by Julia. They brought us upstairs at a little after 5 AM. Nomi witnessed the sunrise first at 5:14 and then we started to observe Venus as a little dot on the Sun, at around the 4:30 position, at 5:21. At 5:28 AM I saw it projected onto a piece of paper with a telescope. At 5:37 AM I saw it through a refractor, and noted a lot of atmospheric haze. At 5:44 AM I saw it through the 9-inch refractor in the dome.

At 5:47 AM they sent us back downstairs. At 6:08 AM I saw it through eclipse shades. At 6:13 AM we saw it with binoculars, but by 6:35 AM the Sun was hidden by clouds, and remained that way for the rest of the transit.

At 7:02 AM we watched the webcast in Phillips Auditorium, live from the Canary Islands. They switched to the NASA feed from Athens, Greece at 7:15 AM. We saw Third and Fourth Contact, and the times were different for optical and the H-Alpha filter. By 7:23 the transit appeared done.

December 2016

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