Well, this is Bri being an astronomer ..!
We had a brilliant time down at Patrick Moore’s house for the 6-hour transit of Venus last week [8 June 2004].
Here you see me and Garik (my Armenian astronomer friend, from whom we have heard) and Sir Patrick, just before sunrise.
The atmosphere of the day was very jolly, and much excitement was shared by the 100-odd participants, all enthusiasts of various kinds….
The sun rose in a clear blue sky, and a motley collection of telescopes were trained on it, everyone being very careful, of course, NOT to look through anything that didn’t have a massive filter in front of it. The dangers of getting your eyes blasted by the sun’s energy are ever present – it only needs a second’s inattention.
I had a special Solar telescope with an H Alpha filter, which WAS safe to look through. But I also had my old Reflecting telescope which me and my Dad made (some time before we made the Red Special guitar !). I rigged up a very Heath-Robinson frame out of 2 wire coat hangers, to support a white card about 2 feet from the eyepiece, and was able to project the sun very neatly onto this card, for the whole duration of the eclipse. IT was widely admired, since although it was very simple and cheap, it did the job admirably!
There’s a picture of me here next to the projected image of the sun, and you can just see the small black dot which was the centre of all the excitement – the planet Venus, on its rare incursion between us and the Sun. Very nice display.
About 15 minutes after Venus had left the sun and we were munching our cheese and biscuits and wine, courtesy of the ever-courteous and kind Sir Patrick, and the BBC Sky at Night team, a huge bank of clouds rolled in and obscured the sun completely.
The Gods were indeed kind to Sir Patrick and his party.