Transit of Venus: Witnessing the Fourth and Final Contact
Posted by: | on June 7, 2012
At 4:44 UTC time, the fourth and last contact of the Transit of Venus happened. My son and I watched it via livestreaming at the Exploratorium website. We could have joined also the event hosted by the College of Science Amphitheater, UP Diliman, Quezon City on June 6, 2012 at 730am. However, we did not feel like going out so we stayed home.
At about 10:30, Special Education Philippines saw a post from my sister about a livestreaming site where you can watch the Transit of Venus 2012 in real time. And that is how at the nick of time we were able to see the third and fourth contact of the Transit of Venus 2012. There is also a commentary every 30 minutes about the Transit of Venus and some trivia why it is important to witness this transit.
I am sure it would be different to be in the field with your family and friends looking at the telescope watching the Transit of Venus. The commentator in the Exploratarium said that a lot of people must be doing the same thing. However, he warned us not to look at the sun directly and to use the correct filters while viewing the transit. I heard him mention three different filters they used to view the transit namely: whitelight, halogen alpha and calcium filter. Upon futher investigation, I researched three common filters used by astronomers in viewing the sun.
Why use filters?
The filters enhance features of the image the astronomer or the viewer is interested in capturing. This also removes other aspects of the image that the viewer does not want to focus on.
What are the colors of the filters?
According to Montana State University on a lesson about solar physics.
a. The blue filter allows you to study the hot, central portion of the crab nebula.
b. The red filter is a better choice for enhancing the outer gaseous regions.
c. The yellow filter enhances the filament structure in the center of the nebula.
The image captured using the different filters gives the viewer, astronomer or researcher a more complete perspective of the object. For example, while watching the Transit of Venus, you cannot observe the prominence of the sun unless you are using the red filter or the yellow filter as shown in the picture below. The red filter shows the solar prominence best which can be detected on the right side of the sun in the picture below. This is difficult to see in the blue filter. Solar prominence is an example of an image noise you can remove when using different kinds of filter.
Some trivia we heard while listening to the Exploratorium commentary:
1. The Transit of Mars will happen on November 10, 2084
2. The Transit of Jupiter will happen in 2014
3. The Transit of Mercury will happen in 2016.
4. Although it is rare, the Transit of Mercury and the Transit of Venus can happen on the same year. It has happened twice in the history of earth which was in 1631 and 1789.
Watching the last 30 minutes of the Transit of Venus was something we did not expect to happen but it did happen and we are just amazed that we were able to witness a centennial event. In my life I have experienced two centennial celebrations already: one is the 150th birthday of Jose Rizal where I was able to go and touch the monument of Rizal which is usually not allowed and the second one will be this one the Transit of Venus. One more centennial celebration and I can say “Tic Tac Toe!”