Viewing the Venus Transit of 2004 from Point Pleasant, New Jersey
A Photojournal by Mary-Frances Bartels

Viewing the Venus Transit of June 8, 2004 was an exciting experience. Mary-Frances Bartels joined members of ASTRA, a local astronomy club, for the event. The transit was well under way by sunrise on the beach, but participants could view the transit's last two hours. The weather for the previous several days was cool, cloudy, and rainy. However, the day of the transit dawned with only a small low-lying bank of clouds on the eastern horizon. This obscured sunrise at 5:27 AM, but only for several minutes. The upper part of the cloud bank acted as a natural solar filter for a short while.

Since I was travelling from Colorado, and safely transporting a telescope 3600 miles round trip would be difficult, I chose only to bring a pair of binoculars (Tasco 10x25) and camera as well as to borrow my father's binoculars (7x50).  Here is a much more detailed narrative of my experience, but without pictures.

Here are some photographs I took with my Minolta Maxxum 7000 camera. Those of the sun were taken with a zoom lens set to 210 mm. When the sun was bright enough a Baader AstroSolar film filter was used. Since the primary use of the film was for direct solar viewing, safety, rather than photographic, film was purchased. The photographic film transmits much more light than the safety film. This lead to some difficulties with the solar photographs. The pictures are arranged in chronological order.

Click on any of these thumbnails to see a larger image. (Remember to use your browser's BACK button to return to this page.)  NOTE: The background image on this page is of the sun on June 8 taken from the University of Hawaii. I superimposed Venus's position.

Participants set up telescopes and other equipment

Still setting up

Sunrise above the mist

B y 5:15 AM many participants had arrived and began setting up their telescopes and other equipment. Though palm trees adorn the beach, they were planted and NOT native to the area.  (335 kb, 700 kb) Sunrise above the mist --- Though Venus was clearly visible with the naked eye, is not apparent in this picture.   Between the bands of clouds and spot of Venus, the sun seen through a telescope was reminiscent of Jupiter.  (146 kb)

Sunrise With Bird Flying Above

Venus seen as a tiny spot on the sun

Filtered Telescopes Pointed Toward the Sun

Another look just after sunrise, notice the seagull flying near top --- Looking closely Venus may be seen near the sun's edge at about 4 O’clock.  Brightness and contrast were adjusted. (151 kb) Venus can be seen in the 3:30 position. Brightness was decreased and contrast increased to make Venus more visible. (37 kb) Properly filtered telescopes pointed towards the sun. (754 kb)

Venus by projection 1

Venus begins egress

Venus ending its journey across the sun

Another method of photographing the transit was used after a gentleman was found projecting the event onto a piece of paper on the sand. Though Venus appears to be near the top of the sun, it was actually near the 3:00 position in the sky. (225 kb) Here the beginning of egress can be seen. I did not see the "black drop effect" with any telescope or by direct viewing. (61 kb) Here about half of Venus has exited the sun. The "dimple" diminished until the event concluded. (53 kb)
 

Frolicking in the ocean after the transit

 
  After the transit was over the two of my boys that accompanied me to Pt. Pleasant frolicked briefly in the ocean before heading back to Hamilton, NJ. (1.7 MB)  

Comments, corrections, or suggestions may be directed to the page author, Mary-Frances Bartels

Page last modified June 20, 2004.

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