Sydney Observatory transit of Venus wrap-up takes the cake
Well, the transit of Venus is over for 105 years. We think we’ll let others plan the next one…. Meanwhile, we thought we’d like to share some of the images that didn’t make it into our blog earlier, and also to introduce you to the staff and volunteers who brought astronomical joy to so many visitors to Sydney Observatory on the day, and who ended the day by sharing a drink and some cake together:
Here is a picture of the Sydney Observatory staff and volunteers who enriched the transit of Venus experience for our visitors:
Staff and volunteers put their hearts and souls into the transit, and it is problematic to name people for fear of missing important people out. However, it was largely due to the passion, enthusiasm, boundless energy, persistence and sheer determination of Sydney Observatory Manager, Toner Stevenson (seated, centre, with baby on her lap), that we achieved as much as we did to inspire people about the transit of Venus, history and achievements of Sydney Observatory, and astronomy in general.
Here is another picture of them, with numbers, so you can identify them (names below):
1 Col Draper; 2 Mary Jane Brodribb; 3 Allan Kreuiter; 4 Jeff Portelli; 5 Tui Britton; Duane Hamacher; 7 Dr Henry Woodruff; 8 Tracy Getts; 9 Katherine Lee; 10 Dr Martin Anderson; 11 Caroline Gilligan-Payne; 12 Mischa Vickas; 13 Fiona Schleyer; 14 Nathan Slawitschka; 15 Dr Andrew Jacob; 16 Cierwen Jones; 17 George Papadopoulos; 18 Tessa Payne; 19 Dr Paul Payne; 20 Christie Nelan; 21 Abbey Payne; 22 Sabrina Ekstein; 23 Emma Harding; 24 Aina Musaeva; 25 Geoffrey Wyatt; 26 Toner Stevenson; 27 Roy Payne.
Here is another of our fantastic volunteers who brought the transit of Venus alive for many – Monty Leventhal:
Our Geoff Wyatt-created VuVuVenus gave visitors a very clear picture of the transit of Venus as it happened – safely projected onto the screen.
Using a funnel, rubber band, and just a few other bits and pieces, Geoff devised this practical way for many people to be able to observe the transit. Geoff’s blog post about how he made the VuVuVenus (and why he gave it this catchy name) tells you more.
In both of the picture above and at right, you can see Venus about half-way through its transit across the Sun – towards the bottom of the image in the VuVuVenus.
People enjoyed the transit using solar specs which gave a very clear view. Sydney Observatory carefully researched solar specs to ensure that those commissioned were safe. And they were – these were the only solar specs approved for use by NASA. They were provided free to visitors on the day, and were on sale in the weeks leading up to the transit (selling out a couple of days before the transit).
People also enjoyed the view through solar telescopes and solar binoculars.
The transit was enjoyed by all ages.
And there were also programs inside the Observatory building, including a new 3D ‘Transit of Venus’ presentation in the 3D Space Theatre, transit of Venus exhibits throughout the building, and themed craft activities for children.
There were also telescope views of the transit in our telescope domes – with a live internet stream from our north dome telescope, and a historical re-enactment with an artist drawing what she saw through our 1874 Schroeder telescope in the south dome. These dome events were so popular that we were unable to get there ourselves to photograph inside the domes.
From where Nicolaas Earnshaw, Luke Dearnley, Vanessa Jacob, Carlos Arroyo and I were blogging, posting to Twitter and Facebook or taking photos, the most common comment we heard was “Oh, wow!” as people saw the transit for the first time. Remember, it had poured with rain and the wind had been fierce the night before, and the weather had been pretty poor right through to the morning of the transit. And there were some blustery and rainy times during the transit – but there were more times of clear views than obscured views – and this all heightened the drama and suspense, and contributed to the fantastic feeling of good fortune and gratitude at having been given the opportunity to witness this last-in-a-lifetime transit of Venus.
We think this photo sums it up:
For those still reading, here is a quick round-up of what was on at, or organised by Sydney Observatory on the day, as well as by Sydney Observatory and Powerhouse Museum in the lead up to the transit:
- Three visitor sessions scheduled for the beginning, middle and end of the transit;
- More than ten viewing stations at Sydney Observatory using safe solar telescopes and/or solar binoculars;
- Historical re-enactment using Schroeder 1874 telescope in the south dome, including an artist drawing what she sees through the telescope;
- Live internet stream through the telescope in the north dome throughout the transit;
- A variety of transit of Venus information, video and websites available on large screens in two marquees (also providing shelter in the case of rain). These included information coming in from Carlos Bacigalupo, a Sydney Observatory astronomy guide, who had gone to Lord Howe Island on the Endeavour replica to observe the transit;
- Three talks about the transit of Venus – one for each visitor session;
- Special 3D theatre ‘Transit of Venus’ presentation;
- Production of merchandise including NASA-approved solar specs and T-shirts;
- Publication of Dr Nick Lomb’s book, ‘Transit of Venus: 1631 to the Present’ (co-published with NewSouth Books);
- Production of an ebook version of the above for iPads;
- Transit of Venus exhibits installed throughout the Observatory building, providing context for the event (and keeping people interested while sheltering during rainy moments);
- Rich web content in the months leading up to the transit, including interactive content produced by Dr Paul Payne, and lively blogging by many over months before the transit, on the day, and continuing….