Transit on the Midnight Sun

By Phil Plait | June 20, 2012 10:00 am

Because why not, I have two more Venus Transit shots to show you. Well, one picture and one quick time lapse video. I know it’s been a couple of weeks since the transit, but since today is the solstice, what the heck. And these are really special.

The first is a picture taken by friend-of-the-blog Babak Tafreshi, who founded and directs the wonderful project The World at Night, which shows people how lovely our skies are. He took several shots of the transit from Norway and put them together into this gorgeous composite photo:

[Click to ensolarnate, and you really need to; I had to shrink it quite a bit to fit the width of the blog.]

I love this shot, because…. he took it at midnight! From northern Norway in June the Sun doesn’t set; it skims the horizon at midnight, circling nearly parallel to it for a time. This coincided with the transit, making this one of the single most interesting sequences of the transit I’ve seen. I also like how the Sun went behind a hill there on the right, with Venus and a sunspot still peeking over the edge. Babak says he’s working on a time lapse video of the event too. [This picture was also on today’s APOD.]

Speaking of which, the second transit shot is a time lapse video sent to me by Mark Ellis (who took the pink aurora picture I posted yesterday). He took this sequence in Minneapolis as Venus crossed the Sun’s face:

Short, but neat! I also like the music; it was written by Mark’s son Ryan. It fits the feel of the video very well.

I love these time lapse videos of the transit. The Sun is setting due to the Earth spinning on its axis, and Venus transiting the Sun due to its orbital geometry combined with our own. I like to picture all that motion in my head as I watch Venus silhouetted on the setting Sun, imagining myself affixed to a spinning world whirling around a star with other attendant worlds, all of us in a constant and complicated dance, moving to the tune of gravity.

How wonderful it is that we can understand and appreciate this celestial clockwork!

Image credit: Babak Tafreshi/

Related Posts:

The June 2012 Transit of Venus Gallery
Astronomer’s paradise (and Making "Astronomer’s Paradise")
How could I NOT post this Venus transit picture?
Sic Transit, Glorious

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

Comments (13)

  1. Chris

    I need to clean my screen. So many spots looked like Venus transiting the sun.

  2. lqd

    Double post, sorry.

  3. lqd

    Phil! Where’s your Louisiana: Doomed post? The private Christian schools now getting public funding use Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) textbooks, which claim that solar nuclear fusion doesn’t exist. See the link in my username.

  4. Thank you Phil, a pleasure to see the image on Bad Astronomy!

  5. Here’s another great shot of the Venus transit:

  6. Matt B.

    I can’t believe we all forgot to make Hitchhiker’s Guide jokes referring to the black ship that has the little black light that lights up when you’ve done something.

  7. Robin Byron

    OT too:

    #3 Iqd
    “…which claim that solar nuclear fusion doesn’t exist.”

    And, that the Loch Ness monster really exists which is proof that Evolution is wrong.
    That state taxpayer money is being used to fund these christian school books has to be illegal.

    Like it or not, we atheists really need to better organize before it’s too late.

  8. It’s good to know that some people actually saw the ToV!
    Can anyone beat my dubious record, of having travelled approximately 6000 miles ( from UK to Thailand ) to not see it??? :-(

  9. “he took it at midnight”

    So that’s why it’s dark?

  10. Dylan

    I made a song for inspired by that first image of the transit over the water.

  11. I used a solar filter in front of the lens in order to reduce the solar brightness and show the Venus Transit, that’s why the image is dark while the sun is up!

  12. Calli Arcale

    Beautiful, both of those! I especially love the time-lapse over Minneapolis, since I live in this area. (Not in Minneapolis; I’m in the ‘burbs.) I recognized it immediately — the IDS tower and that distinctive halo on the Capella Tower. Especially neat seeing the Sun with Venus setting behind the Capella Tower in the closeup. (There’s a story behind that halo, too. The old controversies of how you decide which building is the tallest — it’s quite close in height to the IDS.) And I love the timelapse of the sunset over the Mississippi. That’s the 10th Avenue Bridge; out of sight directly behind it (and masked from view by the 10th Avenue Bridge) is the new St Anthony Bridge, the replacement for the I-35W bridge that famously collapsed during rush hour in 2007. (Gosh, was it that long ago? I looked up the date, and could scarcely believe it had been that long.)

  13. skydaddy

    lqd, it would be interesting to see some actual proof of your assertion that ACE claims that solar fusion is a myth. I went looking and came up empty, just some typical “brights” hyperventilating that students may be exposed to religious points of view. Got any scans of actual textbook pages? All I could find were the typical “according to so-and-so” unverifiable references.


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