Brad Templeton's Photography
Transit of Venus 2004

Transit of Venus 2004

I'll admit that visually, the crossing of Venus before the sun isn't particularly spectacular. I went to the east to see it more for the history and rarity of it. It happens just twice every 120 years or so. The next one is in 2012.

Some went to Europe where they could see the whole transit, but actually much of the transit is boring. I felt it would be more interesting (and closer) to chance seeing it at sunrise or sunset, where it would be briefly visible to the naked eye. At all other times it must be seen with a strong solar filter.

I sought to find a place where I could photograph the transit with something interesting in the foreground. My original plan was to go to Port Credit or the mouth of the Humber, where the Toronto skyline would sit in front of the rising Sun and Venus. However, I ended up in the Kawartha lakes, photographing from a boat on Stony Lake. The unfiltered shots allow a fast exposure, so handheld telephoto was possible.

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In the end, we had some strange luck that gave me some of the best shots I have seen, if I do say so myself. Most of the shots I have seen show just the Sun and Venus, or very minimal scenery or perhaps clouds or a plane in front of the Sun.

The luck was that there was a thick haze that day, due to high humidity. This blocked the Sun at sunrise itself, but allowed the transit to be visible to the naked eye for many minutes, and photographable without a filter as well.

The haze made streaks on the Sun that, combined with the dot, reminded us of Jupiter. I was able to capture many shots with the Sun reflected on the lake, and birds flying and in the foreground.

After it got too bright to photograph without a filter, we moved to a concrete dock (which could not see the horizon so well) to observe with a telescope, primarily by projection. The haze made my filter a bit too dark. Also shot with the camera and a 600mm equivalent lens on the D60. We observed and timed 3rd and 4th contact and the teardrop.

Most shots taken with the Canon D60 with 200mm zoom and 1.4 extender, for equivalent focal length of 448mm at f/5.6. Green shot taken with 2x extender.