Well it’s been a huge couple of weeks getting ready for the Transit, but it was worth every moment. What a sensational day and it was fantastic to see so many schools getting on board for this historical event.
I had spent most of the weekend beforehand making the solar filters for three of the TiS telescopes. Apparently there had been a bit of a rush on Solar filters and it was hard to get one to fit a 12″ scope. Can’t understand why!? Anyway, after the third, I became quite the expert…at making off-centre filters that is.
As it happened, these $10 filters worked brilliantly and we saw the most amazing images of Venus passing in front of the Sun, but more of that soon.
The start of the week, saw me heading out to Pascoe Vale Girls College to help organise the day and test the filter. Turned out, the staff there had done an AMAZING job getting everything ready, especially as there may have been some media presence coming on the day. The school as a whole was also extremely supportive and it was wonderful to meet the Science staff at morning tea. Unfortunately, it was really cloudy on Monday, so no testing of the filter, that was going to have to wait until Wednesday.
Tuesday was when Vikram (Astrophysics PhD student) and I took one of our scopes out to Scienceworks for their Transit event. Vikram was also helping out at the Melbourne Planetariumon the day, so a crash course on setting up the telescope was in order. From all accounts, the day at Scienceworks was a sensational day and thank you to Vikram for helping so many people view the Transit.
On Tuesday night Dr Bart Pindor (from Astrophysics Group) gave a sold out talk at The University of Melbourne on the Transit which was extremely well received.
Then the big day finally arrived. First a message at 7am to say that the media were coming to the school, then it was off to Pascoe Vale Girls College for me. We had the scope out, the filter on, pointing in the general direction of the sun and a beautiful clear sky with only one cloud in it – right where the sun was! There was also a line of students starting to form, ready for their first view of Venus. A bit of wind meant that while we missed the ingress exterior, we did get to see Venus pass into the Sun and had a great two hour session of viewing time. Paul from the Astrophysics Group also came along for the day and had a ball adjusting the telescope and answering the many wonderful questions from the students and staff. During this time, we had hundreds of students and staff have a look both through the telescope and the Eclipse glasses. There was so much excitement when they realised what they were really looking at.
Quote of the day: “That’s so cool! Now I’ve seen my third planet!!” from Year 12 student Abier Ayoubi
During this time, the camera crews had turned up, the media crew from Melbourne University to do a piece for Visions (Stay tuned for this) and Channel 10. As you can imagine, the students were VERY excited by this. In the end, there was a report done on the day and the school by both Channel 10 and Channel 7! Sensational work girls.
While there was plenty of excitement happening in Pascoe Vale and Spotswood, there were a few other observing sessions happening as well. Dr Shane, our technical guru was taking his own images of the transit. I think you will agree, that they just look amazing. He was using his 8″ Meade with a Thorlabs camera.
At Melbourne University, the Astrophysics Group had a couple of telescopes out and were projecting the image of the Sun for all passersby to see. We had tweets all day, sending in message and photos and the queues didn’t cease all day! One of the telescopes was viewing it’s forth Transit of Venus, something none of us humans will probably be ever able to do! Well done to Brad and Mark for organising it.
Suzanne Cory High School, another of our host schools, they had a smaller telescope set up and were projecting the image onto a screen. You can clearly see Venus in the Sun, but have a look at all the sunspots as well! What an amazing image! I have a feeling some more daytime viewing and sunspot investigations will be happening throughout the year!
McGuire College in Shepparton, yet another host school, also had a solar scope out and the story made the local paper. They had both the primary school and the senior school look at the Transit and nice weather for it too!
Lastly, Quantum Victoria also had their TiS scope out with home made filter. It was a busy day for Quantum Victoria, but they still had time to get many students through to look at the Transit and are also planning on doing some sunspot investigations. We are so glad you had a great day.
All in all, everyone had a fantastic day and saw some amazing astronomy. Thank you to all the schools who put in such a huge effort to organise the event. Thank you to the Astrophysics volunteers who helped at the various locations and our partners, Melbourne Planetarium and Quantum Victoria, we are proud to have been a part of your day too.