Well, clouds prevented me, this time .. but I have happily pillaged some nice shots of the transit of Venus this week, and made a stereo impression of the event.
These images were made from data collected by the Orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory (with acknowledgments to Prof Greg Parker) which they kindly shared, live, with the world. During the time it took for Venus to make the complete transit, the Sun obligingly rotated just a few degrees in roughly the same plane. So I was able to make a true stereoscopically round Sun, with snapshots of Venus at various stages of its short and rare journey between our parent star and the Earth going across in front. The Sun is nicely active at the moment, so there is lots of Sunspot detail … always more convincing in stereo than in mono … because then you can be sure it’s not spots on your screen!
Notice how much dimmer the Sun’s ‘surface’ is at the edges than at the centre. This is because the Sun really is not a solid body at all, and has no real surface. It’s a vast ball of glowing gases, and the top layers are semi-translucent. Looking straight into the middle, we are seeing many layers of light emission – at the edges we are not.
This wonderful Fusion generator of power is of course what gives life to everything on our little planet. And even the tiniest variations in its output can have catastrophic effects on all creatures in Earth, and all plant life too. Current research indicates that it was in fact small changes in the output of the Sun which led to the large climate changes that occurred on Earth in the past – and that Carbon Dioxide concentrations were actually not responsible, but merely followed on as a result of the change, and amplified an already existing effect.
However what is happening now is less certain. Certainly some rapid changes are taking place, but it’s hard for scientists to agree on what the principal causes are, and what the eventual results will be. The only certainty is … change.
In the meantime ..
Finally, this superb picture was taken by Jamie Cooper … just catching the end of the event, as the Sun rose, on the beach, near Sir Patrick Moore’s house in Selsey. Spectacular !!