The transit of Venus Australia and New Zealand roundup I – Tasmania & Adelaide
Martin George (in front of telescope) showing the transit, using the projection method, to a crowd of people in Campbell Town, Tasmania. Picture Karenne Barnes
Here on this Sydney Observatory blog we have already discussed the wonderful event at Sydney Observatory on the day and there are still some further posts to come. There has also been a report on the tour to Siding Spring Observatory and from Lord Howe Island.
There were numerous other viewings elsewhere in Australia and New Zealand. People gathered at viewings organised by public observatories, planetariums and amateur astronomy groups to watch the last transit of Venus visible from Earth during the 21st century. Most, but not all, groups happily managed to observe this rare event though at some places clouds added extra drama to the occasion.
Here are the first of the reports from elsewhere in Australia and New Zealand.
From Tasmania, Martin George, Manager, Sciences and History, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery reports:
A huge, excited crowd of around 1200 people visited the QVMAG Museum at Inveresk (Launceston, Tasmania) on Wednesday 6 June to watch the transit of Venus, in which the planet Venus passed across the face of the Sun and was seen in silhouette for six and a half hours. Chris Arkless, ably assisted by Planetarium volunteers Martin Harvey, Trevor Leaman and Peter Brake, showed the transit by projecting the Sun’s image onto screens.
Chris Arkless with a projected image of the transit at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, Tasmania. Photo Chris Arkless
A further 350 people, including Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings, watched the transit from the showground in Campbell Town, where Martin George and fellow astronomers Shevill Mathers and Laurie Priest set up their equipment, assisted by QVMAG Volunteer Karenne Barnes. Campbell Town was one of the eight USNO stations for the 1874 transit – a fact of which the citizens of the town are proud.
The weather was perfect right through in Launceston and clear for about 70% of the time in Campbell Town. In Campbell Town we missed first and second contacts, and did not see the Sun until about 09:45, about 90 minutes after first contact.
I understand that Hobart had good weather for most, or all, of the event. The Astronomical Society of Tasmania set up an observation site at the Hobart Cenotaph, while the University of Tasmania projected a live image of the Sun onto a screen in Physics Lecture Theatre 1 using a data projector.
Waiting for the clouds to clear at the Adelaide Festival Plaza. Photo Paul Curnow
From Adelaide, Paul Curnow, Lecturer, Adelaide Planetarium reports:
Well the Venus transit from Adelaide was anticipated to be a great event, and no one went home disappointed. After great media publicity, around 5,000 people rolled up at the Festival Centre Plaza in Adelaide to see this stellar and planetary spectacle. I arrived around 7:30am to witness the transit, but unfortunately clouds were moving across the Sun at the time, therefore, first contact was unable to be seen. This was forecasted to happen by the Bureau of Meteorology, so most people weren’t too upset; however, by around 10:00am the skies had cleared with the exception of the odd cloud passing.
Consequently, from 11:00am onwards crowds had started to swell with a conservative estimate of around 5,000 people in attendance. Additionally, it had drawn the attention of the media in a big way with a flurry of interviews happening throughout the day. For example, I did 8-interviews in 1-day, which is a new record for me! Many parents had also taken their children out of school to witness this twice in a lifetime event and office workers had snuck out for a quick peek.
Paul Curnow (with patches on jacket) pointing out Venus on the Sun at the Adelaide Festival Plaza. Photo Paul Curnow
The Astronomical Society of South Australia had set-up about a dozen telescopes, with a couple of dozen volunteers there to help man the scopes. I had the privilege of manning my friend’s 60mm Coronado Solar Telescope, which afforded me some of the best views of the Sun that day. Solar prominences stood out clearly much to the surprise of the crowds and the crisp black dot of Venus was clearly visible as it made its transit across the face of the Sun.
In conclusion, I must say it was great seeing the enthusiasm of the crowds, the patience they displayed while waiting in the lines and especially great seeing people there from the ages of five to ninety five years old! Although, I was exhausted by the end of the day – I was truly sorry that this great event had to come to an end.