Last month’s transit of Venus was a twice-in-a-lifetime event that won’t occur again until 2117, so it’s not surprising that astronomy clubs wanted to take advantage of it. As part of Astronomy magazine’s Discover the Universe program to bring sidewalk astronomy to everyone, the Arizona State University (ASU) “Astro Devils” astronomy club made sure to get people interested and excited about witnessing Venus cross the Sun’s face. The club’s Outreach Director Ray Sanders elaborates:
Over the course of about five hours, public attendance likely topped 500. Interestingly enough, during the transit several amateur astronomers set up nearby and joined the festivities, also sharing views through their telescopes, which, similar to the Astro Devils, included small refractors, Dobsonians, and even another LX-200!
While many attendees looked through an eyepiece to see Venus move across the face of the Sun, some preferred the images from the viewscreen of a DSLR camera. Several Astro Devils had cameras attached to their telescopes and took spectacular photos. And if the views through telescopes, eclipse glasses, and cameras weren’t enough, the crowd could also view the transit through #14 welding lenses and various projection methods, including the infamous “Sun funnel” projection.
As the afternoon wore into evening, the crowd swelled in size because Tempe Beach Park is a popular place to enjoy biking, walking, or jogging at sunset. While the Astro Devils were thirsty, sunburned and tired, the club made sure that all passers-by could take in at least a quick glance at the transit before the fading Arizona Sun slipped below the horizon. Overall, it was an overwhelming success.
It sounds like a fantastic event, Ray, congratulations! Not only did you entertain the passers-by and the crowds, but your group’s generosity even encouraged other amateurs to help out on their own. That’s what I call outreach! If you want to know how Astronomy magazine’s Discover the Universe program can assist your club, please email me at email@example.com.