Transit of Venus: What We Saw

The public viewing and celebration of the transit of Venus --the rare astronomical event in which planet Venus is seen crossing the face of the Sun-- was a tremendous hit at Edgewater Beach State Park in Cleveland the evening of June 5. Public interest in the transit was, to this observer, surprisingly high. Those who looked through solar-safe telescopes at our nearest star, by and large, excitedly marveled at what they saw. After all, how often do most folks get to see what the Sun really looks like? Obligatory reminder: Improperly viewing the Sun can result in instantaneous and permanent eye damage!

Photo: The Sun with silhouette of planet Venus in transit.

Thousands in Northeastern Ohio showed up at Edgewater and, by accounts, had a lovely time and will have memories of a unique experience to keep for the rest of their lives. Not everyone could view the event with their own eyes but that doesn't mean they totally missed out, for photos and videos abound.

Didn't get to see it yourself? The photo above shows what a really good view of our Sun and the transiting Venus (the dark circle, top) looked like through a telescope with a white light solar filter. The other blemishes on old Sol's face are sunspots -- intense disturbances in the Sun's magnetic field. The grainy visual texture of the photograph depicts the actual appearance of the sun's visible surface or photosphere. Called granulation, the shapes --each about the size of Texas-- are similar to the action we see in a pot of boiling water. Wavy patterns among the plasma "grains" are shaped by convection and magnetic field lines.

We live in a universe of marvels. Take a look around!

For a very large collection of transit photographs from around the world, visit

See how the event looked through the eyes of NASA's orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Thanks for the pic! I love

Thanks for the pic! I love that you explained about the grainy texture in the photo, that's very interesting!

You're Welcome

You're quite welcome! It's fun sharing those things. Did you notice along the bottom edge (limb) of the solar disk the white pattern amongst the darker granules? Those lighter-colored areas are called "faculae."

Here's what NASA's solar science site has to say about them:

Faculae are bright areas that are usually most easily seen near the limb, or edge, of the solar disk. These are also magnetic areas but the magnetic field is concentrated in much smaller bundles than in sunspots. While the sunspots tend to make the Sun look darker, the faculae make it look brighter.

I hope you were able to see the transit of Venus for yourself. It was lots of fun for me viewing it and gratifying to see how excited 'most everyone else was!

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