Venus Transit Observations at Berry College

Mount Berry, GA


The Transit of Venus

On June 5, 2012, Venus passed between Earth and the Sun. This so-called "transit of Venus" caused a very mild partial solar eclipse. As Venus passed across the Sun (from our viewpoint here on Earth) it appeared as a small black disk on the bright body of the Sun.

Venus transits occur in pairs about 8 years apart, but with more than a century between different pairs. The 2012 transit was preceded by a transit in 2004, but the next two transits won't take place until 2117 and 2125. Historically the transits of Venus were very important because they were used to determine the distance between Earth and the Sun.

For more information about this fascinating topic, see www.transitofvenus.org. The remainder of this page focuses on observations of the Venus transit made at Berry College.


Observing the Transit at Berry College

The Department of Physics, Astronomy, & Geology at Berry College held a public viewing of the Venus transit on the evening of June 5, 2012. The viewing session was hosted by Berry undergraduate physics major Kalen Maloney. Kalen is an avid amateur astronomer and serves as the assistant director of Berry College's Pew Observatory. The observatory director, Dr. Todd Timberlake, helped organize the event but was unable to attend it because he was out of town (in Hilton Head, where the skies were completely clouded over....).

The equipment for the transit viewing included two 8-inch Celesteron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes with solar filters. One of these telescopes was dedicated to photography and video recording of the transit, while the other was used to allow visitors to view the transit.

A small crowd (it was summer, after all) of Berry students, faculty, and staff and other interested people gathered to observe the transit starting around 6 PM (before the start of the transit) until after 8:30 PM when the sun was no longer visible. The transit lasted until about 1 AM on June 6 (Eastern Daylight time), but the second half of the transit was not visible from Georgia. The images below show the group gathered to see the transit, as well as Kalen photographing the transit.


Photographs of the Transit

Berry Transit Photos

The images below were all taken by Kalen Maloney at Berry College on June 5, 2012 using an 8-inch Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with a solar filter and a Canon T2i digital SLR camera. These images have not been processed in any way. The images are arranged in time sequence, with the time each images was taken displayed along with some brief commentary. All times are Eastern Daylight time.


6:19:13
Disk of Venus partially visible at the upper right limb.

6:38:03
Disk of Venus fully visible.

7:33:20
Disk of Venus has moved toward interior of solar disk.

8:06:03
Some clouds in the way.

8:09:48
Sun begins dropping behind some low-lying clouds.

8:10:00
More cloud cover.

8:30:24
Lots of clouds covering the bottom of the Sun.

8:30:54
Our last image of the transit.

NASA Transit Photo

By way of comparison, the image below was taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, a spacecraft that orbits Earth and continually monitors the Sun.


Source: NASA/SDO

Transit Video

Kalen also took some video of the transit. We are still working to process the video, but hope to post it soon!
[Return to Pew Observatory Main Page]

Todd K. Timberlake (ttimberlake@berry.edu)