Venus Transit 2012: A dot in front of the Sun
As many people know, a transit occurs when one of the inner planets of our solar system (Venus or Mercury) stands between us and the Sun. This phenomenon is quite rare in the case of Venus which produces one transit every 8 and 105 years respectively.
Unfortunately on this occasion the event of June 6th, 2012 was not visible in most of the Spanish territory and only in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands were able to enjoy the final minutes of it. Living in Granada, we were resigned not to see it. The last transit of our lives and in the case of Sergio, the last chance to see his first.
Without thinking much about it and as a joke, one of us dropped the possibility of making a quick trip to any place of the Earth where it was visible. After a few laughs on this crazy and unexpected proposal, we thought........what would happen if we do it? If we really take the first flight to anywhere in the world and we enjoy this last chance?. Despite being in a very busy moment, the idea waas looking more plausible.
We began to see flights in the Internet. We did not know if we would end up in Romania, Lithuania or any other country in the east. We wanted the flight to be low cost, not exceeding 100 € the round trip. Moreover, we have to get back in the same day after the event and the original idea was to make observations from the airport car park. After a difficult search, we found a small airport in southern Norway (Rygge) and a flight that suited our requirements.
After exploring the area with Google Earth, we saw that the airport had a great flat place which would make the observation easy without the need to travel around Norway. Almost compulsively we got the two round trip tickets at a very affordable price.
The next step was to prepare all the luggage. We used a SW80ED and a Coronado PST, provided by the Astronomical Society of Granada and fixed them in parallel with the help of a pair of rings. The CG5 mount was chosen due to its performance and low weight. And all of this was complemented by two CCD cameras from Lunatico (QHY5 mono and a IMG132E color).
The night before the flight we finished preparing the setup and making combinations of all the material between the hand bags and luggage at a quite late time. To our surprise, the lens of the SW80ED can be removed along with its sunshade. That makes the telescope very portable and avoids any damage for carrying it in our hand bag. We still remember the faces of X-ray operators in the airport , carefully checking the screen until one of them said....it's only a telescope! Let it pass!
After 4 hours of flight, we approached the airport and see that weather was not close to be good. In fact, it was raining a lot. We knew before leaving Spain that the forecast was not very good but we always had the hope that the clouds would disappear. It seemed that after all, our efforts would be in vain.
We connected to the Internet (the wi-fi was free in the airport) to see the last images in Sat24 and we found that Norway and Sweden were completely covered by clouds. Only in southern Sweden and around the West Coast we discovered that there was a place free from clouds. It was a small speck in the middle of a white sea. Thus, we hired a car which became a form of protection from the cold and rain and a way of moving around as well as our main power source for the laptops and the mount.
After travelling about two hours South, we found a place almost free of clouds and pine trees on the horizon that could hide the Sun at dawn. We stopped at a crossroad and we rested there for a while (it had been a very busy and tiring day!). We ate something while watching the Sun go down very slowly.
In fact that is one of the most interesting things in the Nordic countries: the way objects move in the sky. Polaris is much higher, and the Sun and Moon (which was almost full) move along the horizon like a vulture who can not take flight after a binge. It was really strange to see how the Moon (which usually rises rapidly over our heads in Spain) was almost rolling here on the rim of the horizon of pines.
Around 2 AM the clouds were still over us and, in fact, it rained a little bit. We could just wait until for the Sun to come out with the same laziness with which it had hidden a few hours earlier. About 3:30 in the morning the Sun began to rise and we prepared all the material (we aligned the mount and setup the cameras).
With everything connected, each one of us was responsible of a computer and an optical tube to take videos of the event. At one point, with the Sun still low, we could see Venus on the solar disk at a glance! It was a tiny dot near the edge of the Sun. We took a series of videos to create a complete sequence of the output of the planet from the Sun limbo. The images look amazing through the screens and when we thought we had managed to overcome all difficulties, one of the computers hanged in the middle of the recording sequence. We tried to close the application and even resetting the computer but there was no way to make it work again. We still remember the frustration of knowing that the transit was completed while the f.... Windows tried to reboot.
After a few minutes of stress (you would never imagine how much), we thought we were really lucky to be there. A few hours ago we thought we would go home with completely empty hard drives and now at least we had seen the transit and got some images . Basically we had no right to be angry, especially since it would have deprived us of the joy of the moment ... an unforgettable moment seeing a small dot passing across the sun.
Just when Venus disappears out of the limbo, we took down all the material back to the car an returned to the airport.
At 11:00 am we flew back to Spain, but with a great smile and the satisfaction of a well done job. But above all, we had the privilege of enjoying and sharing one of the greatest spectacles that nature can offer us.
We dedicate these images to all persons which for one reason or another could not watch it live.