Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Men are From Mars, Kids Want to See Venus

Talk about serendipity, the stars aligned perfectly (or should I say the clouds), and we were able to squeeze in some views of Venus crossing the sun, which meant we weren’t going to have to wait another 105 years for the next opportunity. Since we magnified it, it was very clear and visible. It's that small black dot on the bottom of the sun. You can also see the clouds starting to take over.

It’s been rainy and miserable for the past few days, though I can’t complain because we’ve had our fair share of beautiful weather, as well. Then again, I can always complain. Either way, it was raining all day Monday and for much of the day Tuesday when out of nowhere we got some blue sky. I had spoken to JH (of JH and his magic bag of tools fame) the week before and he said he was planning on taking C&SH to watch Venus cross the sun. He’s a science buff that knows his stuff, so he’s the man to be with. The news has been hyping this event up all week, so the kids were excited.

We were working on our go-cart in the early afternoon when the beautiful weather suddenly turned black and rainy. It started pouring, and I figured that was it for seeing Venus. I talked to JH and he said they might get into the van and drive west until the found some sun. I asked A&N and they said they’d be up for it, so the adventure was on. The other option was to go to the library and watch a slide-show presentation on it, but they were less enthused about this idea. Can’t say I blame them.

JH came and picked us all up, and as we piled into the van, the weather started to clear again. I couldn’t believe it. In fact, by the time we reached the end of our driveway, it was sunny and nice. JH pulled over immediately and set up the telescope. We were sort of working against time, because the clouds were blowing in and out continually. I helped hold up the sun shade, and at some point it was really hot with the sun beating down on my neck, and the mosquitoes were eating me alive because I couldn’t move, the little buggers.

JH adjusted the scope, and soon enough we had a nice image of the sun on the screen. It was sort of a drag for the kids to have to sit there and hold the boards up, and since we were so close to home, A ran back and got a music stand to relieve the young ones of observational duties. This freed them up to go crazy in the field, which was good because they could blow off some steam.

By about 6:10, we could see Venus entering the sun’s perimeter. It basically looked like a black BB, and it was surprisingly prominent and clear. It was pretty cool, and the kids were stoked to see it, though after a few minutes, they were off and running again, doing battle with whatever plants and branches they could get their hands on.

By about 7:00, the clouds were taking over, though it was cool seeing them cover up the sun. It reminded me of werewolf movies. With the moments of bright sun becoming few and far in-between, we decided to end the show and just hang out. It was nice seeing JH, it’s been awhile and we had a chance to catch up, or in our case, describe the myriad of injuries that we are suffering from. Old age has a way of doing that to you.

C&S have a good mom who planned their supper properly, so they were noshing on their food, but A&N still had to eat. Our supper was waiting at home, and in retrospect, we should have eaten first. However, it worked out well because having dinner waiting at home gave me a good reason to drag them back there. This came up because JH and his crew were going to drive off and find more views to the west. Our time was better spent eating dinner at home.

All in all, it was a cool evening, punctuated by serendipity with the weather. I love when that happens. We can’t wait until the next century when Venus will do it again.

Until then, thanks for reading.

No comments: