Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Transit of Venus!!!!!!!!

Venus transited across the sun today. Unlike Captain Cook, we didn't travel to Tahiti to see it; we slouched out to our front porch. Of course, we didn't see the entire transit, and for most of the day it looked as if we would see only the transit of raincloud. Fortunately, at just about the last minute, the weather broke...
Here we see noted natural philosopher The Real Doctor with her sophisticated apparatus, observing the transit of Venus:
Here's a close-up of the transit, as we saw it projected onto a Dixie plate (the most readily available stiff white surface):
Here's a few minutes of the event. If you blow the first clip way up, you can see the shadow of Venus wiggling and jiggling like a droplet of water--that's atmospheric distortion. The remaining few minutes shows (upside down, as it is projected through a telescope) the sun and the transiting Venus as it is blocked by a telephone pole down the driveway from us, and then as it is approached by the trees on our local horizon.

I love microbiology because it makes me feel connected to the scope of life on earth; I love this kind of astronomy because it makes me feel connected to the universe. The solid earth I stand on suddenly becomes part of an orrery, and I feel my home and all I know tumbling through the cosmos in a dance with the sun and moon and planets and stars. It doesn't make me feel insignificant at all; it makes me feel connected.

(The audio for the clip is included as this is also a personal blog, and it illustrates the more microscopic details of our life right now--we were planning to be in LA right now for the violin-building workshop, but plans exist mainly to remind us that we're not in control of things. Between the excitement of work on the farm and house and some conniptions involving a faulty alternator, it seems we are missing the first week of the workshop. A bummer, definitely, but far from a tragedy.)

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