Thursday, June 21, 2012

One More Post About a Recent Celestial Event

Lilly and some of her friends filled up water balloons in the back yard yesterday and soon were throwing them at each other. Ann got in on the action, too. Then they lit sparklers, even though it was still daytime, followed by smoke bombs (tamely called "smoke balls" on the package, and it's true that they don't explode). During all that, they also ate pizza and drank soft drinks.

A fine way to pass the summer solstice, and a day that hit about 90° F. under clear skies, even if no one commented on the fact that it was the longest day of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere. I'm commenting on it now. First day of summer? I don't think so. It's been summerish here for weeks.

Back on June 5 -- also a very summerlike day -- some 5,000 people showed up on the grounds of the Adler Planetarium on the shores of Lake Michigan to see the Transit of Venus. At least that's the number an employee of the planetarium told the crowd at one point. But there's no doubt there was a crowd.

A number of people had come with their telescopes and binoculars, and a lot of others had eclipse glasses. There were families making a picnic of it, and TV news coverage. In this case, WGN, according to the back of the camera.

These were the mounted binoculars I looked through.

Through them, Venus was a clear, crisp dot on the background of the pale yellow Sun. Afterward, I found the rest of my family and Lilly's friends and encouraged them to wait a little while in line to look through the binoculars, too. The lad in the picture is one of Lilly's friends as he saw the transit, with the gentleman who owned the binoculars holding them steady.

Not far away, I waited in another line to look through a largish telescope, which produced a large, white image of the Sun. Venus was proportionally larger than in the binoculars, and there were sunspots visible as well, but there was no mistaking the planet. Still, I liked the binocular view better.

I got home that evening late to a pile of unfinished work, which caused me to have a long day on the 6th. But as I lay thinking about it before drifting off the sleep, I knew it was worth the aggravation.



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