June 8, 2004 Transit of Venus from Willimantic, CT

Photos taken from the campus of ECSU by Dr. Russell D. Sampson.

All images were taken with Kodak Tri-X film, using a Questar 3.5-inch telescope with an Olympus OM-1 camera body and a Thousand Oaks full aperture photographic solar filter.

Figure 1: Venus first became visible just after sunrise in a small break in the clouds.  Around 20 people from ECSU and the community showed up at 0500 EDT to witness this very rare astronomical event
Figure 2: Venus and the Sun start appearing out of the clouds.  Everyone who came to the viewing was able to see the event.
Figure 3: Astronomers in the 19th Century attempted to measure the distance to the Sun using triangulation of the last transit of Venus.  Observers were stationed on opposite sides of the Earth and through exact timings of the contact Venus made with the edge of the Sun could determine the distance to Venus and hence to the Sun. 
Figure 4: However, attempts to accurately time the second and third contacts were compromised due to the famous “black drop effect”.  This is an optical phenomena caused by the Earth’s atmosphere and the limits of the telescope optics that causes a bridge of darkness to appear to extend from the disk of Venus to the edge of the Sun.  This is illustrated in the enlargement of Figure 3.