Friday, June 08, 2012

Venus transit

Lately (for the past 15 or 20 years), I am of the opinion that house cats are pretty much useless. In fact, they are probably less than useless. I might feel differently if we didn't have any, but we do. Still, somebody found a use for one. It was a dead one, too. Well, come to think of it, dead house cats probably aren't quite as useless as live ones. I mean, at least you could use a dead one for a doorstop if you wanted to. Try doing that with a live one. Anyway, when this artist's cat died, he used it to make a cat quadcopter.

You might be wondering what all this has to do with desert exploration. It turns out that there is a connection, sort of. I also found a use for something that many people probably thought was useless. Remember when we had a solar eclipse a couple of weeks ago? I didn't have a way to photograph it directly, so I made a cheesy little box to view a projection. It worked, sort of. I told myself that I should be better prepared next time something like that came up. Two weeks later, when Venus made its last transit of the sun for the next 117 years, I was still unprepared. I knew that Venus would be too small to show up using my cheesy little box. What to do, what to do.

I figured that I would make use of something that most people probably consider to be useless. You've heard me talk about the brown cloud in the past. It's a layer of pollution that gets trapped over Phoenix, usually in the winter. I had been seeing in the mornings for a few days recently, though. I planned to go somewhere with a good view of the setting sun and use the brown cloud as a filter so I could photograph the transit.

While waiting for the sun to get low enough, I took pictures of other stuff.

I went out the Hieroglyphics Trail, on the south side of the Superstition Wilderness. It was another great day to be in the desert. The temperature was below 100 and there was a nice breeze most of the time. At the beginning of my hike, there were no gnats. I thought that might be because of the breeze. After a while, the trail went along the lee side of a hill and there was no wind at all, but still no gnats. That was really really nice.

I got there a little early and took pictures of random stuff.

Fusion powered cholla monster. Move over, Godzilla.

Finally, with minutes to go before sunset, enough sunlight was filtered out that I could get some pictures.

In some of the pictures, you can barely tell that there are some sunspots. I think the camera may not have been focused. Well, autofocus wouldn't work and the sun was too bright to use manual focusing. I'd better get ready before the next celestial event. Click below for all of the pictures.


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