By James Dacey
Earlier this week people all across the world were presented with an opportunity to witness one of the rarest predictable astronomical events, as our neighbouring planet Venus cut across the face of the Sun as viewed from the Earth. If you missed this chance to see Venus silhouetted against the solar surface then unfortunately it is almost certain that you will never see it live again – the next transit will not occur until December 2117.
Fortunately, though, there are many keen photographers around the world who realized the rarity of what they were seeing and managed to capture some stunning photographs. Here is a selection of the images submitted to the Physics World photo challenge group on Flickr.
This image was taken near Lake Lavon in northern Texas, in the US. It was submitted by Flickr member R Hensley who says the shot was captured directly through the lens without any kind of filter, so I hope his eyes are okay.
Patience and the ability to seize an opportunity when it arises are important traits for photographers to acquire. At least one of these traits is possessed by photographer Jube Wong who managed to capture this dramatic image of a seagull silhouetted against the backdrop of the transit of Venus.
This image offers a more focused view of the transit itself and the level of detail is so crisp that you can also see some tiny sunspots where the solar surface is particularly volatile. It was taken in Kuwait by photographer Bron Gervais.
In addition to photos of the transit itself, we have seen a lot of great pictures of people experiencing the event and deploying a range of different strategies for observing the Sun without damaging their eyes. For instance, this image submitted by Judson Powers shows a man watching the transit on a home-made projector.
Then we have this image, taken by Bob McClure, in which we see three people watching the event in Arizona while wearing special glasses to filter out the harmful frequencies.
Many people around the world watched the event in special organized group viewings, such as this one at the Grand Rapids Public Museum in Michigan in the US. This image, submitted by Melter, shows the moment at which the transit began, as captured on a projector from the Michigan vantage point.
Peter Hoh submitted this image of another method for observing the transit by projecting it onto a piece of paper via a sunspotter.
Finally, we travel to Australia, one of the last places to witness the transit. This picture was taken by Flickr user Bidgee at Wagga Wagga in New South Wales.