Yesterday was the transit of Venus in front of the sun, and if you missed it, you really missed it as the next transit won’t happen until 2117. Los Angeles is notoriously bad for many celestial events, since most are seen at night and we have awful light pollution. For once, with this daylight occurrence, we had prime viewing conditions and I knew I could not miss it. I headed up to the Griffith Observatory before sunset, with countless other people, to see the tiny planet cross the surface of the sun.
I have always been fascinated by space; the complete unknown held in it’s distance and intangible beauty. In another life, one in which I was better at physics, I could easily see myself studying the planets. The experience of seeing this tiny dot cross in front of a glowing orb affected me intensely. Just a little dot, really a planet nearly the size of our own, traveling in front of the all powerful sun. The magnitude is difficult to put into words. Instead I’ll recommend that you watch Melancholia, Tree of Life and 2001:A Space Odyssey for maybe a glimpse into what I’m talking about.
There was also something great about congregating with all these other people to see it. Many of the telescopes that were set up for viewing were brought by friends of the observatory. I have so much appreciation for these people who sat out in the sun and shared their equipment with the masses so that everyone could see. I loved seeing all the various telescopes and assorted ways of capturing the event. The most astounding view for me was a binocular telescope that allowed you to see a three dimensional image of the sun in excruciating detail.
I shall end this with this stunning video of the entire transit. Were you able to see it?