Monsoon clouds Venus journey

Monsoon clouds Venus journey


Monsoon clouds played spoilsport, denying early risers, including schoolchildren and skywatchers, a clear view of the century’s last transit of the Venus across the sun on Wednesday morning.

The planet’s voyage, which began at sunrise, had many scientists and amateur skygazers glued to telescopes and other instruments to catch a glimpse of the celestial wonder.

Although the sky was cloudy and the sun invisible, students at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) set up an ‘atmospheric extinction monitor’ through which the image of the sun could be captured and projected on laptops where Venus appeared like a black spot moving across the sun. The instrument, fortunately, worked despite the cloudy weather.

Students from B Mona High School, Madivala Government School and National Public School, Koramangala, visited IIA to watch the spectacle. Although the students knew what the transit of Venus would look like, they were disappointed that they could not witness it live.

There were many enthusiasts at the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, too. Sandhya N K, a second-year student at REAP (Research Education Advancement Programme), had built a model ‘Method of Parallax’ with two binoculars, explaining the distance bet­ween two celestial bodies, for the Venus transit.

The enthusiasm among skygazers, including students, waned as thick clouds covered the skies. Prasad, who brou­ght his son Gopikiran to the planetarium, said his son was excited when he saw Venus on the screen, but after a while, it was all covered with clouds.

Siblings Akshara and Ananth, studying at National Public School, said, “We are missing our school to see the sun. We will wait till we see it and then attend our classes.”

Girish Doddamani and his son Sujit had arrived early in the morning at the planetarium. “I brought my son here early so that he could watch Venus cross the sun and then I could take him to school. Till 8.30 am, we were not able to see the transit. It is really disappointing,” said Doddamani.

The planetarium had installed five telescopes, a model explaining the orbital movement of Venus between the Sun and the Earth, built by REAP programme students. The planetarium charged Rs 25 for a pair of solar filter glasses.

A group had also gathered on the Lalbagh hilltop, which probably offered the best view of the planet’s transit. Bangalore Astron­omer Society had arranged telescopes, including an automatic equipment, a Celestron motorised telescope and a manual telescope for the public to view the phenomenon.

At Sankey Tank, Breakthrough Science Society sold solar filter glasses for Rs 10 apiece. Keerti G, 11, said: “I am very eager to witness the transit as I am interested in planets and stars. I want to work for NASA someday so that I can build telescopes to view such events.”

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