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Transit of Venus

Below is the the thought process I used to plan to take photos of the once-in-a-lifetime event – the Transit of Venus across the face of the sun. The event occurred on June 5, 2012. For some background, read here.

This is an especially useful tool:

A Goal

Get a recognizable foreground silhouetted against a large solar disk featuring the “dot” of Venus. To be useful, the sun needs to be large and the foreground recognizable. Here is what I actually achieved.

Drift Mode [composite]

With a Recognizable Silhouette (Here the Golden Gate Bridge)

Peek a Boo [C_037975]

Of course the sun would have to be higher so that the recognizable tower foreground would be visible as a silhouette. It should be possible to also process the shot like this one:

Rise and Shine [C_037951+77]

Imagine the “dot” on the face of the sun.

All this is possible if we catch the sun near sunset.  Sunset configuration rules out the Lick photo since that is facing east.

Important Factors

  1. Weather!
  2. Recognizable foreground
  3. Good distance from the target (to get a large sun diameter relative to the target)
  4. Long focal length.
  5. Weather!
  6. Sun azimuth will be about 300 degrees near set.

Possible Locations

  • Pigeon Point Lighthouse – alignment works. Fog might be a problem. NOTE the Lighthouse will be much smaller than shown here. Indeed, nearly the entire lighthouse will be present against the face of the sun due to the distance of two miles to the lighthouse.

  • Transamerica Building – probably won’t look like much in silhouette
  • Sutro Tower – wonder if it has the recognizableness, and if the thin towers will really show up against the sun.
    • Bristlecone Pine Tree – almost certainly doable somewhere!
    • Washington Monument?
    • US Capital Building?
    • Seattle Space Needle (Anything in Seattle is unlikely due to trees everywhere)

Locations Ruled Out

  • Most “mountain tops” as they are not easily recognized in silhouette – especially e.g. Half Dome (on the wrong side of the valley and so huge it’s not possible to get far enough away)
  • Golden Gate Bridge North Tower (mountains behind)
  • Coit Tower¬†(unlikely – vantage is on Alameda and the Marin Headlands will be behind.)
  • Golden Gate Bridge South Tower (for the same reason as the North Tower)