A transit observed

Late yesterday afternoon we drove over to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh for their Transit of Venus event.

There was the obligatory short talk and a multilingual video of scientists from around the world talking about how they would be observing it.

The museum had a large room on the 4th floor with a pair of projectors displaying images of the Sun from Australia and Hawaii. A bit later they finally got the same pair of feeds up on the inside of the big dome in the Daily Planet Theater.

Turnout was… huge. There were literally hundreds of people crowded into the Daily Planet Theater and on the 3 floors above the main level where the presentation could be seen, as well as those seated and standing up in the 4th floor video room.

The museum staff seemed genuinely surprised at the size of the crowd.

Well, we do live in the RESEARCH Triangle Park area, after all.

During a break in the clouds around 6:30 PM we walked the 9 flights up to the top of the museum parking garage to see if we could get a view through one of the telescopes set up there, but the lines were really long (some 20 – 30 people deep). As it turned out the “solar shades” we’d bought online in advance of the event were good enough to let us see Venus as a tiny dot on the face of a deep orange (due to the filtering material) US dime (or was it a nickel?) dollar-sized Sun.

Transit of Venus 2012-06-05