Sunday, June 10, 2012

Transit of Venus


That's it. We're getting a telescope! I've been thinking about one for years, even before M was born. And he's been asking about one on and off for the last 2 years.

The need for our own telescope (or at least strong binoculars) became especially evident during the transit of Venus. Of course, we weren't going to miss it! And of course we needed to figure out a way to look at the sun without our eyes suffering permanent damage.

It was too late (the night before the transit) to buy special glasses, so instead after doing some research online I decided to make a sun scope out of some old boxes. The first one we made didn't work too well; it was hard to control and aim at the sun. So we tried again, this time following this how-to (except we used lots and lots of duct tape to connect the boxes).

The sun scope was easy enough to use, but the picture was tiny. The sun was no bigger than a dime and forget about seeing Venus! Still, our sun scope got lots of attention from folks that got together on the parking garage's roof next to the new Nature Research Center in the downtown.

However, I was glad when we scored a pair of special glasses. Now we could look at the sun! I even got to see the transit! M says he didn't see anything. Which is entirely possible since it's pretty hard for a 5-year old. There were also a couple of telescopes set up on the roof, but the lines to them were horrible. By the time it was our turn the sun was almost setting and they were rushing folks through. I looked for a fraction of a second and didn't see anything except for a giant orange blob and same with M. He was pretty upset about it too.

I tried to reassure him that he'll get to see many more celestial events like that in the future. To which he replied "but Mom, you said yourself that this is a very-very rare event". So I tried to look up some upcoming eclipses (none visible from our area until 2014) and settled on meteor showers. I told him how we'll get our own telescope and will find a spot for it and we'll sit wrapped in warm blankets, watch the stars and drink hot chocolate. M brightened after hearing this and said that he was very happy and glad we made our solarscope and that he can't wait to watch meteor showers with me. So now I am looking for a telescope.


  1. what kind of telescope are you looking to get?

  2. I've done some research and I think a beginner Meade or similar (although that's pricey). I've read (and it sounds sensible), that for my budget ($100 or so), it makes more sense to get a pair of really good binoculars instead. So we might just do that. And I found a local astronomy club that does star parties. So we'll try going to one of those.