Flintstone Stargazing

June 5, 2012

Venus Transit

At this point, Venus is completely in front of the Sun.

Venus Transit Teardrop

At a certain point, because of the atmosphere of Venus, there’s a kind of teardrop shape as it completely enters the Sun – this is at that moment.

The Transit of Venus has begun

This image is from the start of the Transit. More images soon.

August 8, 2010

ISS transits the Sun – 8/8/10

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, ISS, Observation Journal, Sun, sunspots — Ed @ 1:32 pm

Today I did a bit of travelling (just to Collegedale) to do some daytime stargazing. On CalSky.com I was informed that a solar transit of the ISS would be happening near my location and I decided I just had to try to capture it. It was scheduled for 11:43:08am today and would last just under 1 second.

So, I packed up my gear and headed out. When I found a suitable spot to set up, I took out my equipment and realized that I had forgotten my telescope power cable. That’s okay – I can set up by hand. I also forgot my compass, which I use to align the telescope with North, but I guessed at that, based on where the Sun was. So already things weren’t going well, when my laptop battery went from saying I had 90 minutes of power (more than enough) to the next minute saying I had 8 minutes of power (not nearly enough). Despite all of this, I just did it manually – I hooked up the scope and pointed it at the Sun, set up the D50 and used the manual remote to trigger the shutter. When my watch (which I had synchronized before the trip) indicated a minute left I started taking photos as fast as the camera could take them. While it took pictures, I looked through the viewfinder which would go black every time it took a shot (it’s a DSLR) and after about 4 minutes I stopped, not having seen a thing. So I packed up my gear and headed home.

When I got home, I put in my camera’s memory card into my plugged in laptop and waded through 170 images before I finally came to this one. It’s the only one that captured the ISS. Unfortunately, since I couldn’t get the laptop running, I couldn’t focus with the extreme precision I’d need to get a crisp outline of the station, but I’m very happy with this nevertheless. The ISS is clearly outlined against the disc of the Sun while two sunspots are also clearly visible.

I can’t wait to try again (the next one near me is several months away) and next time I’ll bring both my scope’s power cord as well as my laptop’s.

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