The final Venus transit picture

I won’t post these amazing pictures here as I haven’t requested permission to use them, but Phil Plait has, and you can see them over at Bad Astronomy.  There are two pictures, actually, and here’s Phil’s description. Go have a look!

I figured I was done posting Venus Transit pictures, but I should’ve realized I hadn’t heard from Thierry Legault yet. And as soon as I saw his name in my email Inbox this morning, and before I even opened it, I knew I’d have at least one more picture to show you.

And I was right. Thierry is a master astrophotographer, and he’s not one to just let an astronomical event go by without figuring out some way to make it even cooler. He traveled to northeast Australia to view the Venus transit… not just because it had a good view, but also because from there, he could see the Hubble Space Telescope transiting the Sun at the same time! On June 6th, at 01:42:25 UTC, he got [an] amazing shot:

You can see Venus as the big black circle, as well as dozens of sunspots. But you can also see multiple images of Hubble as it zipped across the Sun, circled in the image above. Orbiting the Earth, Hubble moves across the sky so quickly that it crossed the Sun in just under a second. Blasting his DSLR away at ten frames per second (and with an exposure time of only 1/8000th of a second per frame) Thierry managed to get 8 shots of Hubble silhouetted against the Sun.

I previously posted another stunning picture by Thierry, this one showing the International Space Station transiting the Sun during a solar eclipse.  He went to Oman to take that one, and (as with the Hubble picture) had exactly one second to get the shot before the ISS sailed out of view.


  1. Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    An addendum on that picture (and a link to the main theme of WEIT).

    While the HST was in that picture it was itself observing the Venus transit. The thin smear of Venus’s atmosphere around Venus’s disk would have absorbed some of the sunlight, and so by comparing the spectrum of sunlight in and out of transit one can detect the absorption signature of molecules in Venus’s atmosphere. (Since the Sun is too bright for Hubble, Hubble was actually looking at the Moon, using it as a dim mirror of the transit light.)

    The point of this was to test the technique, and thus demonstrate whether we can detect molecules in the atmospheres of extra-solar planets, when they transit their star. By this technique, detecting `bio-marker’ molecules that indicate biological activity on an extra-solar planet is conceptually possible.

  2. shakyisles
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Awesome pictures! It was cloudy all day here in Wellington so I’m enjoying the pictures on WEIT

  3. abrotherhoodofman
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Wait a minute… how do we know it isn’t Bertrand Russell’s teapot?

    • shakyisles
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Permalink


    • Grania Spingies
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      Well, as Carolyn Porco pointed out once, there are MILLIONS of teapots orbiting the sun technically…

    • MadScientist
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      No one can prove it wasn’t!

  4. darrelle
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Thierry Legault is awesome. I meant to mention him to Ben Goren the other day on the earlier transit photo thread. Do yourselves a favor and check out some of his work from the past few years.

    A good place to start is, at the bottom of the BA post Jerry links to, there are several links to additional awesome images.

  5. Chris
    Posted June 10, 2012 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    So *that’s* what the 10fps multiple exposure function is for!

  6. Posted June 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    What this underlines for me is that we believe in / accept science because it WORKS. It makes predictions like just where Hubble and Venus will be at a particular moment as seen from a particular spot on the earth, and someone can go there and take pictures that prove the predictions were right.

    Compare this with the prophesies of the bible….

  7. The White Path
    Posted June 10, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Preparing for 12.21.2012.

  8. Mary Gnusader Canada
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Awesome, awesome, awesome

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