Shooting the Transit of Venus

The cover story of S&T's October issue follows the scientists who observed the historic transit of Venus and their efforts to leave a complete record for future observers of Venus's next transit in 2117.

Author Jay Pasachoff led a team that traveled to the Haleakala summit in Hawaii to capture spectacular views despite heavy winds. Videographer Aram Friedman accompanied Pasachoff to the summit. Friedman produced a time-lapse movie of the transit, accompanied by time-lapse movies of team members operating their equipment and clouds streaming across and down Haleakala’s slopes.

Watch Friedman's time-lapse video here:

Friedman, a time-lapse veteran, tells Sky & Telescope that shooting the transit was no picnic. "With help from my daughter we shot 119,512 frames, shot at a 1 second cadence. Due to a slight miscalculation the night before, we had to move the mount at the last minute, making it necessary to manually adjust every 3rd frame."

"We took 30-minute shifts keeping the scope aligned by tracking a single sun spot," he adds.

Ground-based observers weren't the only ones watching the transit. At Pasachoff's request, space-based observatories such as the Japanese Hinode mission and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured some stunning views. Click any image for a larger version.

Venus and Sun
Venus approaches an active Sun.
NASA / SDO
Venus Aureole
Hinode captures the aureole, the thin ring of sunlight transmitted through the Venusian atmosphere.
Hinode
Transit of Venus
Hinode
Venus Ingress
The Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager observes the full solar disk at a wavelength of 617.3 nanometers, a wavelength that gives information about the magnetic field at the surface of the Sun.
NASA / SDO
Venus Crosses Active Sun
SDO / NASA