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Transit of Venus

June 6th, 2012

I saw it! Briefly!... but I saw it!

This just a mere "blog" type entry. No need to read further!... but please email me, share your experience, if you too saw it?


(I created that image from It isn't a "picture"... but it shows what I saw.)

I had just two brief glimpses... less than 3 seconds each. But that was enough. First was just as Venus touched edge of sun's disk at end of transit, second a few minutes later. This at a little past 5:30am, British summer time, 6 June.

I'd already headed home from where I'd hoped to view the transit.

We had heavy overcasts, occasional rain all day on 5 June. It looked as clouds would preclude viewing, as in 2004.

On the evening of the 5th, I watched an excellent BBC TV programme about the transit, and transits in general. The evening weather news was not encouraging. But an animated weather map on the BBC website did predict a brief and very local window of clear skies... at just the right moment!

Woke up at 4:30. Not too remarkable, given that I sleep poorly in general. Got up. Very remarkable. Threw a few things in the car, and set off to a high hill to the north of town. Besides offering a good vantage and possible elevation above low lying fog, it is the site of a late Bronze Age hill fort, so seemed somehow appropriate. About a ten minute drive. Sunrise due for about 4:45.

Being so far north, it was already "light" at 4:30, but at the time I got to the hilltop, the clouds were denying any sight of the sun. Only my watch told me it was above the horizon. But there was a stiff breeze, and the clouds variable, so I settled in to wait with hope. Brief rain showers, brief brighter moments.

Just as time was running out, a few "holes" appeared. For a moment, there were even shadows... but still no sun, not even a pale disc through the clouds. Around 5:30, darker clouds had settled, there wouldn't be time for them to clear before the transit was over. Headed for home.


Half a mile from home, I join a dual carriage way. Normally I just turn left, onto the eastbound carriageway, but this morning, I went out onto the flyover to see what I might see. Turns out it would have been an excellent spot to watch from... but no one else seemed to have noticed. At least at the Trundle I had company!

Sky had brightened in the few minutes and miles I'd driven... but still no sight of sun. But lingered a bit, and....

Very briefly, twice, the clouds were thin enough that a pale image of the sun burned through. And I got my glimpses of Venus between us and the sun. And it was good!

Ironically, as I finished my journey home, I had to put down the sun visor in my car as the sun was dazzling my view of the road ahead.

When I was about 12, I was at a summer camp which bussed us north into Canada to see a total solar eclipse, which was fabulous. And there was the close approach of Mars a few years ago. Apart from that, until now, I've usually been denied sight of these things by clouds.

Considering that this is only the 4th transit since the one in 1769 which was a factor in the effort to enable Cook's first voyage, and that large parts of the globe had no view of the transit, I am thrilled to have seen it!

Going back to where we started: What would Cook... four transits ago... have thought of modern optics, digital photography and transglobal communication? Samuel George, "Ringsofsaturnrock's", took his photo, passed it to the internet, I transformed it and re-published it... in under an hour. Cook's tranist was on 3/4 June 1769, but it wasn't until 12 July, 1771 that he got back to England with the information gathered by the scientists.

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional Page WILL BE tested for compliance with INDUSTRY (not MS-only) standards, using the free, publicly accessible validator at An early draft of the page was valid apart from several things inside the code to embed the video clip of the ocelots.

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