Between Here and the Transit of Venus

Duke Johnson

After a trip that started with the annular eclipse followed by night shots at Devil’s Tower the next night (more on that in a later blog), it was off to visit family in North Dakota. We planned the trip so that we would go home to Utah on the day of the transit, giving us what we felt was the best chance to see it since we would be driving across most of North Dakota and Montana on the 5th.

Clouds were abundant and after the transit started, we were chasing a patch of blue sky for about an hour and a half. After changing a blown out trailer tire and removing a newly twisted fender near the beginning of the transit, we finally stopped in Miles City, MT and took some initial shots through decently dense clouds. We had planned to leave quickly, but a blue patch opened up just east of the Sun and moved in the right direction for about 30 minutes, keeping us there. Just as the clear patch was about to get to the Sun, the clouds shifted and that was that. Blue sky would have to be found elsewhere. When clear skies were at last found, I was able to take some shots. The three images below show the progression of the transit over about 40 minutes. Moving from one image to the other shows a little movement of the planet against the Sun’s disk.

Transit of Venus June 6, 2012. Image on left at 5:30 p.m. Image in middle at 6:18 p.m. Image on right at 7:55 p.m. credit: Duke Johnson

Duke between two big rigs in Miles City, MT

The 35 to 40 mph winds made taking photos difficult. I was glad that I had my 12 lb, 7 ft. tripod along. For the first two photos I found a good spot between two big rigs at a Miles City diesel stop. They blocked the wind just enough to allow a semi-stable shot (no pun intended) with my 100-400 zoom with a 2X extender and Canon 5D Mark II. Post color processing was done in Photoshop.

The wind actually continued to get worse as we pushed on trying to get to blue sky. We pulled off the road at Hysham, MT for the final shot. Our trailer provided some protection (and our little one got to stretch his legs!).

While we didn’t have the clear skies we anticipated in Montana for the transit, we were still able to capture this once-in-a-lifetime celestial event.

Duke near Hysham, MT

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