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Dance of the Celestial Orbs
June 6, 2012 6:46 AM   Subscribe

Stunning video of the transit of Venus by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.
posted by pashdown (72 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Just a note - the first eclipse you see is their logo. If you're dumb like me, you will exclaim "damn! Venus is bigger than I thought!".
posted by Think_Long at 6:51 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Pretty cool, this universe.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:53 AM on June 6, 2012


Is that real footage? It looks like Venus is just a slightly-transparent overlay on the Sun's image.... you can actually see right through it.
posted by Malor at 6:53 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


That was beautiful. *Dabs eyes*

Now I just want to get up from my desk, go outside, lie on the grass and gaze into the sky and ponder the magnificence of space, our utter insignificance and the absurdity of life in general.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:54 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's one now.
posted by Fizz at 6:59 AM on June 6, 2012


As someone who looked up today and saw clouds, clouds, and then more clouds, followed by a spitoon of rain, I appeciate what NASA did and does for people like me.

Even if we cut the cable.
posted by Mezentian at 7:01 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is that real footage? It looks like Venus is just a slightly-transparent overlay on the Sun's image.... you can actually see right through it.

I think that's a video compression artifact.
posted by jedicus at 7:08 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


First thing that hit me: Venus and the Earth are about the same size.

And the sucker punch-follow up: the Sun is 3x as far away as Venus in this shot, so its actual size is 3x larger.

"The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena." --Carl Sagan
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:11 AM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is that real footage? It looks like Venus is just a slightly-transparent overlay on the Sun's image.... you can actually see right through it.

From the video description: "The videos and images displayed here are constructed from several wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light and a portion of the visible spectrum. The red colored sun is the 304 angstrom ultraviolet, the golden colored sun is 171 angstrom, the magenta sun is 1700 angstrom, and the orange sun is filtered visible light. 304 and 171 show the atmosphere of the sun, which does not appear in the visible part of the spectrum."

I didn't see the transparent effect in the orange, filtered visible light shots, just in the UV shots. Maybe it's got something to do with how they constructed the UV shots.
posted by cog_nate at 7:15 AM on June 6, 2012


We had the live feed running until 10pm as we were cloudy all day. Thank you, NASA. Your 'neers were having a lot of fun out there and we had fun watching them and that flare! Wowza.
posted by tilde at 7:16 AM on June 6, 2012


Very nice.

I saw the transit two ways. The first was with an eye safe eclipse viewing filter, which showed my that, man, I need new glasses. The second was the reflected pinhole technique, where you mask off a mirror into a very small one (say, 5x5mm) and reflect the image of the sun into a dark room.

Unfortunately, the mirror was crappy, so the image wasn't good enough to see the very start of the transit, but it did work.

Then a migraine hit and I closed the curtains and whined for the next few hours.
posted by eriko at 7:29 AM on June 6, 2012


That really messed with my sense of scale! My initial response was to picture that this was basically like the moon orbiting earth, and then I realized, no it's a whole planet, and it's a lot closer to us than that sun is. It was really hard to adjust my mental sense of where those object were in relation to each other and to us. Man, the sun is big.
posted by vytae at 7:34 AM on June 6, 2012


To paraphrase the top YT comment: I hope one day we can be on Mars watching Earth do this.
posted by Renoroc at 7:43 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this. I was watching some live stream in Mauna Kea last night, but it's cool to have the sped up video.

Also, the sun is the scariest thing I have ever seen.
posted by King Bee at 8:05 AM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I was so happy the clouds parted and we got to check out the transit! My husband was late getting home from work because he would stop his bike and ask people, "do you want to see Venus?" and then offer up the solar glasses I'd bought for him.


(we were denied much of a view of the may 20 eclipse and were sure it would be too cloudy for this too which made seeing it extra special.)
posted by vespabelle at 8:07 AM on June 6, 2012


That was a lot more impressive than my binocular projection (though I was surprised that I could see sunspots in my projection).
posted by audi alteram partem at 8:07 AM on June 6, 2012


Excellent - 17 dislikes though. What more could people want?
posted by ntrifle at 8:11 AM on June 6, 2012


Sorry, 15 dislikes...still 15 people watched that (or some of it) and thought..."meh..."
posted by ntrifle at 8:11 AM on June 6, 2012


I love events like this which make me (and apparently others as well) think about the scale of the solar system. It brings the notion that yes, we live in a super-huge universe to the forefront of the mind.

Also, one of the neat things about this is that every other time you see Venus in the sky, it's very bright. This is the only time it appears as a black dot.
posted by MustardTent at 8:16 AM on June 6, 2012


Damn, I missed this. But I told Siri to buzz me for the next one, so we're all good.

*sits down, twiddles thumbs, whistles, waits*
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:19 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's beautiful and majestic and everything but the video did start to feel like this after about 40 seconds
posted by minifigs at 8:23 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


But I told Siri to buzz me for the next one, so we're all good.

Zooey: Is that Venus?
Siri: It sure looks like Venus. This transit will not occur again until 2117. You should watch it.
Zooey: Oh...let's get tomato soup delivered!
Siri: *sigh*
Zooey: Remind me to watch this transit thing...tomorrow.
Siri: OK, I'll remind you in 105 years
posted by King Bee at 8:24 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


On the way home from work, the wife and I stopped by the gathering held by the local astronomy club. Got to see just after first contact on a couple different telescopes - sun-specific and regular ones with filters.

Later, the wife set up imaging with my old binoculars. So I went ahead and got out the camera lens and extender, and a polarizer to cut the light even more.

Wound up with this, just before sunset.
posted by notsnot at 8:26 AM on June 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


This transit will not occur again until 2117. You should watch it

Yeah, 21:17 is like a quarter past nine right?

Man you space-nerds are sooo dramatic about shit.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:27 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Excellent picture notsnot!
posted by MustardTent at 8:30 AM on June 6, 2012


Also, the sun is the scariest thing I have ever seen.

Yeah, as I keep saying, even though everyone is all "oooh, the Sun is our friend and the source of all life on Earth," the Sun is a huge ball of burning gas that could belch us out of existence with hardly an effort. We should be making more of an effort not to piss off the sun, in my opinion.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:36 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


What's amazing to me, is that, even with Venus magnified in the foreground, it's still dwarfed by ephemeral solar prominences.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:36 AM on June 6, 2012


It was cloudy here for the little bit of the day we all felt up (we were more or less a plague house yesterday) to going outside, so I promised my son that we'd look at it online. This was perfect.

My son also says:thank you.
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:46 AM on June 6, 2012


Earth would never transit the Sun from the perspective of Mars, right? Because Mars is closer to the Sun than Earth is, the Earth would always move behind the Sun if it aligned but in front of it.
posted by pez_LPhiE at 8:57 AM on June 6, 2012


That was a lot more impressive than my binocular projection (though I was surprised that I could see sunspots in my projection).

A friend set up a binocular projection in his back yard and invited me over. There was something incredibly powerful in the immediacy of that faint little image. I mean, we live in a world of marvels where we know that a day after an event like this we'll have our pick of stunning full-color videos to download, all looking as though we'd just opened the back door of our spaceship to gaze directly at the phenomenon. But somehow that ghostly little projection, with the gray sunspots and the little black ball of Venus moving slowly across the face of the sun just filled me with a sense of delight and wonder that was qualitatively different from enjoyment I get from the super-hi-res videos. Perhaps in part it was the feeling that this was close to the experience that the C18th observers of the last set of transits, in all their far-flung corners of the globe, would have had.
posted by yoink at 8:59 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mars is further from the Sun than Earth.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:01 AM on June 6, 2012


I got to watch this happen yesterday with a pair of those funny glasses. It was a tiny speck of black against the sun, and I just couldn't look away! I stood there for a while just staring. Such intensity.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:06 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


What a waste of money, NASA never gives us huge technological leaps or insights into the universe. We should spend our money on more productive things, like battleships and stealth fighters to use against countries that don't have radar.

Don't tread on me. 9 9 9.
posted by joedanger at 9:07 AM on June 6, 2012


I'm so mad at Earth's atmosphere for ruining this for me.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:12 AM on June 6, 2012


It was cloudy here last night so I was watching this live on the 'net and it occurred to me that last time it happened we didn't have the technology to watch it live on the 'net. The next time it happens we will have technology that we cannot possibly imagine. Some of our grandkids might even one day be sitting on Mars watching a transit of Earth across the sun.

I wasn't even high when I thought of all that.
posted by bondcliff at 9:16 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Earth would never transit the Sun from the perspective of Mars, right? Because Mars is closer to the Sun than Earth is,

Well, you're right that it wouldn't happen if Mars were closer than the Earth, but it's actually quite a lot further out.

Sun->Mercury->Venus->Earth-->Mars---------------->Jupiter
posted by Malor at 10:02 AM on June 6, 2012


Some of our grandkids might even one day be sitting on Mars watching a transit of Earth across the sun.

And given the way things are going, probably a lot more of them will quake in fear at the sign from God that sinners must be purged.
posted by Malor at 10:04 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


We had bright clear skies here yesterday evening, and so a friend and I made good on our promise to go to the natural science museum for the "festivities." We expected a couple nerds with a couple pin-hole light boxes. AND OMG WERE WE WRONG.

(Okay, that was probably our stupidity for living 20 minutes away from the Johnson Space Center and thinking nobody here would care.)

There were lines around the block to take a gander into the big telescopes. There were people with fascinating contraptions that were displaying the Transit for people to see. And there were folks handing out solar lenses so that we could all check it out directly. It was awesome!

They were playing music, and there were food trucks, and basically it was awesome. Was thrilled to be able to enjoy it.
posted by jph at 10:08 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


GenjiandProust: Actually, the sun is a miasma of incandescent plasma.
posted by FireSpy at 10:11 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Aside from Mercury, are there any planets from which a transit of Venus would never be observed? Would an observer on Mars or Jupiter observe much rarer transits, or none at all?
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:18 AM on June 6, 2012


It saddens my inner child to remember how excited I would have been by this as an astronomy-mad kid. Now I'm just, "Eh, a black dot moves across a yellow circle. Big whoop."

Iit makes me realise how jaded age has made me. No wonder I drink so much.
posted by Decani at 10:29 AM on June 6, 2012


I kept expecting a fade to Matt Smith as Doctor Who saying, "Hey! That's where I learned Venusian Karate..."
posted by juiceCake at 11:01 AM on June 6, 2012


There are a couple of moments in that video where you can see arcs of material rising from and falling back to the sun's surface. Knowing how enormously huge those arc are is one thing. Seeing them in the same picture as an entire planet is entirely another.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:20 AM on June 6, 2012


Earth would never transit the Sun from the perspective of Mars, right? Because Mars is closer to the Sun than Earth is, the Earth would always move behind the Sun if it aligned but in front of it.

...
posted by nathancaswell at 11:32 AM on June 6, 2012


The crowd at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles was like Woodstock for astronomy nerds. I had to park about a mile away and hike up the hill.

It was well worth the effort, though. There were about 20 small telescopes available for viewing, they were showing streaming video from one of the big telescopes, and the curator of the observatory (Lara Danly) was giving lectures on Venus transit. She explained what the transit is, why it is so rare, and its historical significance (among other things, by observing Venus from the northern and southern hemispheres, astronomers were able to calculate the distance of Venus and other planets from the sun).

BTW the transits occur in pairs separated by 8 years; the first of the current pair was in 2004.

Kepler was the first to predict the first transit, but couldn't see it (others saw the second of the pair 8 years later). The next pair occurred just a bit before the American Revolution (1761 and 1769), where Captain Cook sailed to Tahiti to observe it and help triangulate observations (to try and calculate distances). Another pair occurred in 1874 and 1882 (John Philip Sousa composed a march, the "Transit of Venus", in honor). And now this pair, which you could watch through the miracles of TV, the internet, or by driving a horseless carriage to a public observatory.

To me, one of the coolest parts is that we're just four (pairs of) 'transits' removed from Kepler.
posted by Davenhill at 11:45 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Amazing picture from Japan's Hinode satellite.
posted by MustardTent at 11:53 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I got a picture of sorts, but it' snot as good as notsnot's.

I didn't find out about this event until all the solar filters everywhere were sold out, though I would have loved to train our 6" scope on it, so alas. I looked at it unmagnified through welder's goggles for a bit, (I could barely resolve the dot with my eyes) then I grabbed my binoculars and a white sheet of foam core I had in the garage, propped the foam core up against the car facing the sun & held the binoculars a few inches away from it & focused the eyepieces on it. With the binoculars about 10-12 inches from the paper, the image was maybe 2" across, so it made for quality viewing, until some high thin clouds moved in about 7.

And yes, we are very, very, very, very, very small.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:28 PM on June 6, 2012


I would like to propose a toast to Guillaume le Gentil, whose efforts to measure the Transits of 1761 and 1769 were thwarted by clouds, hurricanes, politics, warfare and generally godawful fortune from beginning to end.
posted by Pallas Athena at 12:31 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


We tried to watch it, couldn't 'cause clouds, listened to some NASA nerds get weepy with joy from their Hawaii thingy as they observed. They were so happy and so nerdy and in Hawaii. It seemed incongruous.
posted by angrycat at 12:36 PM on June 6, 2012




We really should consider worshipping that thing.
posted by LordSludge at 1:42 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


What was the purpose of the Hawaii location? Was it a particularly good spot to see this?
posted by jph at 1:53 PM on June 6, 2012


It was cloudy here all day, but when I got home from work, there was an hour of opportunity. I only have 1 west-facing window in the house, so I set my telescope up in that room, and the image projected through the lens onto the ceiling. This distorted it, but it was still awesome. Venus was bigger than I expected, and for a while I thought it might just be a spot on the mirror or something. The other cool thing was that several sunspots were visible. My granddaughter was in the room, but was not interested. She'll have to wait until she's 105.

What was the purpose of the Hawaii location?

You could see the whole transit. (Map at bottom)
posted by MtDewd at 1:59 PM on June 6, 2012


I watched this video with my daughter this morning and she was fascinated, thanks for posting it.

I ordered several pairs of eclipse-viewing glasses for the transit. I dragged my co-workers out after the transit had started, and we could just barely see it, then we came upstairs & watched the webcasts for a while. On Wilshire Blvd., there was a guy who had set up his telescope for passers-by to see the transit, which I thought was a great idea.

I take a karate class in the evening, and before class started, I made sure to get all the kids outside so they could see the transit. It was so fun to see their expressions change when they saw Venus.
posted by mogget at 2:13 PM on June 6, 2012


I went out with the geology nerds to watch it in my town in a parking lot. It was heartening to see people out there checking out the sky, even if it did look like a freckle/zit on the sun even with a microscope.

Oddly enough, we had someone dressed up like Lady Gaga at ours. I have no idea why red lacy thong was appropriate stargazing attire, but whatever, I guess.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:14 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yup still looks like a black dot moving across the sun.
posted by thorny at 3:41 PM on June 6, 2012


I watched the NASA feed from Mauna Kea, they said they had 3 RED Cameras recording the transit in 4k rez digital, through different telescopes and filters. Now that I have got to see.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:36 PM on June 6, 2012


S/he was just letting his/her freak-satellite fly, jenfullmoon!
posted by jph at 5:00 PM on June 6, 2012




the Sun is 3x as far away as Venus in this shot, so its actual size is 3x larger.

Actually, due to the inverse-square law, the sun would actually be 9x larger than it appears. (being 3 times the distance of Venus)
posted by ShutterBun at 6:13 PM on June 6, 2012


Inverse square law only applies to light intensity no? Not apparent size. As soon as a lens is involved doesn't it go out the window? Like the way apparent size gets all kinds of fucked up when you compare a telephoto lens to a fisheye.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:24 PM on June 6, 2012


Different focal lengths can certainly skew apparent size of distant objects, but all things being equal (i.e. with a fixed lens, or a human eye) inverse square applies to both luminance as well as apparent size, and for the same reason.

This diagram is referring to radiation, but as you can see, the area of 1 square at 1r becomes 9 squares at 3r.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:54 PM on June 6, 2012


Our fleet of robot spacecraft devoted to studying the Sun and solar system weather is something I consider to be incredibly awesome.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:08 PM on June 6, 2012


Actually, I'll amend what I said to agree that yes, the diameter of the Sun would appear 3x as large, so it makes sense to say "it looks 3x as big" (but of course the area would be 9x as great)
posted by ShutterBun at 8:38 PM on June 6, 2012


there's a little black spot on the sun today...
posted by davidmsc at 10:45 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lustmord's Metastatic Resonance is a fine companion soundtrack to this video. It seems to have been composed with the awful, horrible beauty of the sun very much in mind.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:48 AM on June 7, 2012


Here's a halfway decent image I took with a 3" consumer grade telescope, a piece of printer paper, and a cellphone.

This setup works so well it breaks my heart there won't be any interesting solar phenomena for a long time to come.
posted by clarknova at 5:42 AM on June 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Holy crap, clarknova, that's freaking great!
posted by lazaruslong at 6:14 AM on June 7, 2012


Very nice, clarknova. That's essentially what I did with the binoculars, except I don't have a tripod mount for them, so I was holding them in my hand while my kid snapped pics.

The trees are an extra-nice touch.

A caving acquaintance got a really nice shot too:
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:33 AM on June 7, 2012


I tired with my 8X40 binoculars and couldn't see anything worthwile. Was I doing something wrong, or were they not powerful enough?
posted by Think_Long at 9:53 AM on June 7, 2012


Could have been the focus. I have one like the one Devils Rancher links to.
The dark stuff in my picture is a tree in the way. I could turn the focus and see the trees clearly, but nothing on the sun. Focused out to infinity, the trees blurred up and Venus was there.
posted by MtDewd at 12:48 PM on June 7, 2012


We really should consider worshipping that thing.
posted by LordSludge at 9:42 PM on June 6


We really should consider that the very concept of worship is inherently perverted and degrading.

Whoops, sorry, I came over all unnecessarily serious there. I shall get the little woman to chastise me fiercely.
posted by Decani at 12:45 PM on June 10, 2012


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