Thursday, June 7, 2012

In Transit

This morning the family went to a public viewing of the transit of Venus at the physics department at UTas.

The organizers were doubtless possessed of pure motivations, but their "public viewing" involved sitting in a lecture theatre, watching an internet feed of the transit on a big screen.  Meanwhile, some guys were fiddling around to set up a camera feed of the local view of the transit, to be displayed on the same large screen, in the same lecture theater.

Visigoths!  Barbarians!  Imbeciles!

As if we all don't spend enough time inside, staring at stuff on screens.  The transit of Venus is a physical event that is meant to be experienced personally, outside, as it happens.  The whole idea is to behold the actual light that is cast by our glorious orb 93 million miles distant, with the single blemish that is the shadow cast by our lovely neighbor, the morning star.

Actual light, actual shadow, actual solar system, actual experience.  No pixels, nothing digital, no tape delay.

After all, Hobart only had viewing conditions that looked like this:

Plus, sailors feel a bit proprietary about the transit.  Captain Cook, tiare Tahiti, Fletcher Christian.  All that.

So we left the big screen behind and set up our own private viewing - all it took was a pair of binoculars, a wheelbarrow for a tripod and a convenient shipping container for a screen.

Statistically speaking, I reckon Eric is the only one of us who has a chance of seeing the next transit.  He would be 107.

You can do it, mate!


  1. This post was awesome, Mike!
    I think its great that you did this with the boys! I enjoyed it off a computer screen-reading your blog!

    1. glad you liked it!

      don't know what the timing of the event was where you are, but I reckon that Kodiak in summer is one of the few places with a higher incidence of cloud cover than Tassie in winter!

  2. Thanks for the photos, Mike. Brilliant! So very cool. There was total cloud cover here in the UK, so I'm delighted that you took the time to photograph your transit. Thankyou.

    1. yeah - ain't it nice when you have something that justifies all this easy sharing via internet?

      thought we had Buckley's chance ourselves of seeing it, but the weather came up perfect...

  3. These are amazing pictures, and the best "what we do as a family" story I've heard for a long while. Been AWOL from the blog, but hey, there are always 100 good reasons to read the back posts.

    Diana and Alex

    1. I figure that if I can make Tassie life look interesting to someone in St. Tropez, my time here will not have been wasted!