Select images from a family trip to Los Angeles.
Apparently, I was under a rock this weekend and missed the solar eclipse. More accurately, I was moving rocks in my garden, and likely thought any darkening of the sky was due to a passing cloud. It never occurred to me to actually look up, so I missed all the excitement. That’s alright, though, because I wasn’t exactly prepared to gaze at the retina-burning event.
The next solar event of note is the transit of Venus, which happens on June 5th around sunset for those of us in the western U.S. The transit takes place when Venus passes between the Sun and the Earth, becoming visible against the Sun itself.
Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena. They occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transit_of_Venus
The prior transit of Venus took place in June of 2004, eight years ago. After 2012, the next transits of Venus will be in December 2117 and December 2125. The likelihood that I’m going to be around for Venus’ next transit is unlikely, so my plan is to try to experience this one.
I’ve been fascinated by the idea of a watching a planet crossing in front of the sun since I first saw the movie Sunshine. In addition to being one of my favorite films, it has a minute-long scene that causes me to hold my breath every time I watch it. A team of astronauts headed on a mission towards the sun gather in a viewing room to witness the transit of Mercury across the sun.
For the full effect if you’ve never seen the movie, experience it here.
We’re specks on a blip of a planet in a dot of a solar system spinning around an incomprehensibly expansive universe. From where we stand, though, in our ego driven lives, it seems to be the other way around. We are the giants, and it’s the sun that is small, and the stars that are pinholes in the night sky. Celestial events like this one are a cosmic reminder to keep things in perspective.
I have no idea what I’ll see or what I’ll be able to capture, but I’ve started doing the research on what I can do to capture this event. I’m going to try to limit my purchases to what is absolutely necessary, and try to make use of the gear I have on hand. That means engineering a solution to my back focus problem with my DSLR and ghetto telescope, which I think will be my biggest hurdle. But if nothing else, I’m going to photograph the sun!
If you’re up to trying to capture your own images of this celestial event, here are some helpful resources for checking the times it will be visible in your area.
My earlier post was heavy. It started out innocently enough, a positive reaction to an editorial written by Renaissance Man James Franco about giving a commencement speech at the University of Texas, which he ended with:
I know a lot of you are probably looking at me on stage and thinking, “Why should we listen to you? You’ve never enrolled in our school, you’re not from Texas, you have no connection to us whatsoever. You’re just a spoiled actor, celebrated the world over.” But the truth is, I’m not just a spoiled actor. I’m also a filmmaker, an author, a teacher, a lover of pets, and an organ donor. The point is, I try to be a lot of things. I’ve been fortunate enough to explore various areas of interest in my life, and I hope the same for all of you.
The last line resonated with me. I try to be a lot of things, as well, and I’m extremely fortunate to be able to pursue my seemingly endless list of interests. That line was a gentle reminder to not only be grateful for those opportunities but to also to take advantage of them, to be mindful of the experiences, and to encourage others to do the same.