Monday, July 02, 2012

Transit of Venus

The Astronomy Club had set up their telescopes on the terrace in front of the Quad when I arrived at work. It was overcast and unlikely they'd get a chance to see the transit of Venus in their - or even their children's - lifetimes. But when I came out at lunch, it had turned into a blustery cloudy marine kind of day, the sun flashing out in patches for minutes at a time. So I lined up with the other quietly excited introverts to take my turn at one of the telescopes. And bending down and looking through the eye-piece I saw a small black dot on a smoky yellow background - the telescope had magnified the edges of the sun out of view. There was another viewer nearby, like a camera oscura, that threw an image of a white sun with a small black dot on a round screen. It looked like the dot ball in billiards and the difference in scale between the small black dot and the large white disc was interesting.

Quietly excited introverts.
Someone was giving out sun-viewing glasses, like cardboard 3D specs but with thick brown plastic instead of the blue and red lenses. I put a pair on and looked at the sun - and I was looking at the Sun, our star, up in the sky - but in front of it was that tiny dark circle that was Venus - and it was like the Sun, and Venus, and Earth, were all beads on a string, and I could feel myself looking across space, across all that distance to a planet, and a star, seeing so far. I felt as big as that space, and I was amazed! and I was elated.