We couldn’t possibly start today without recognition of the little black dot. For those of you that have been in an astronomical coma for the last few days, Venus the mighty goddess herself manifest as a black dot, a beauty spot if you will, on the face of the sun yesterday. I was lucky enough to have a special someone drag me out of my office to look through the optical telescope set up adjacent to the Research School of Physics (it’s sometimes handy being at this end of campus). Otherwise, it is highly likely I would have prioritized reducing data over this planetary phenomena. Shame on me I know, I should be ejected from the Research School of Earth Sciences on that ground alone. There are many other grounds, but I tend to save those stories for a less public forum. However let’s not dwell on the blemishes on my own record and go back to the sun. The clouds broke just long enough for me to catch a glimpse of Venus with our nearest star providing the exquisite glowing backdrop. I must admit it was strangely humbling, and reminiscent of my last encounter with the solar system.
If you were not lucky enough to be close to a telescope, or dexterous enough to construct a pin-hole camera then the BBC has a lovely collection of images here, or the Daily Mail has some pretty spectacular images here. But to satisfy the astronomer in you I recommend NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory. It is times like this I miss Carl, as in Carl Sagan, with his dulcet tones and philosophical contemplation of the insignificance of our species in relation to the enormity of the universe. I hope everyone had the chance yesterday to embrace their inner Carl, to marvel at Venus as a small black dot, from the vantage point of our pale blue dot. And if you did not witness the transit of Venus first hand, I hope you will be around in 105 years when we can do this all again. I for one intend to be a little more enthusiastic next time around.