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    Venus Transit, sometimes cloudy...
    From: Frank Reed CT
    Date: 2004 Jun 8, 17:11 EDT
    I drove towards Stonington Point just east of Mystic this morning right at sunrise, and prospects looked poor. There appeared to be two layers of clouds. Both were broken layers so it wasn't hopeless, and besides I had made it that far so I continued driving. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a group of about ten people, which eventually swelled to about thirty, already set up and getting ready to observe. Only a handful of these were part of our "party", so these were mostly just people from the local area with an interest in astronomy and an eagerness to get up early (myself, I was out late with friends, so I was working on about two hours of sleep). Just as I parked my car, a sliver of orange sun emerged from behind the clouds, and by the time I had my sextant out, there it was. Venus was a big black dot on the otherwise "spot-free" face of the Sun. We had nearly an hour and a half of good observing and we were all able to check out the transit through many different optical instruments and projection systems. Sextants with decent telescopes proved to be especially popular since their shades are designed for catching the Sun at any brightness (even when it's low in the sky and a subdued orange ball). Just before third (?) contact, clouds moved in and prevented us from seeing most of the final phase of the transit. The clouds broke for two or three minute just before Venus left the Sun's disk. It was a "notch" in the Sun's edge. Luckily I was able to show one late arrival that little bite out of the Sun. That's all she saw of the 2004 transit of Venus, but she did see it!

    And so the day has passed. Time to hear William Harkness again...

    William Harkness of the US Naval Observatory after the transit of Venus in 1882 wrote:
    "There will be no other till the twenty-first century of our era has dawned upon the earth, and the June flowers are blooming in 2004. When the last transit occurred the intellectual world was awakening from the slumber of ages, and that wondrous scientific activity which has led to our present advanced knowledge was just beginning. What will be the state of science when the next transit season arrives God only knows."

    Frank R
    [X] Mystic, Connecticut
    [ ] Chicago, Illinois
       
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