Sun photographer Kenneth K. Lam photographs the Transit of Venus

11 photos

The recent Transit of Venus occurred just over a month ago and it won’t happen again for another 105 years. Even with the healthiest of lifestyles, almost everyone alive today will miss Venus’s next journey across the Sun. Sun photographer Kenneth K. Lam recounts how he photographed the Transit of Venus last month.

On June 5, 2012, I had an opportunity to photograph a historic event, Transit of Venus.

The Transit of Venus occurs in pairs that are eight years apart and then don’t happen again for over a century. The last occurrence was on June 8, 2004 and the next pair won’t occur again until 2117 and 2125.
I missed the event on June 8, 2004 probably because I was preoccupied with the birth of my daughter two weeks prior.

I arrived at the Maryland Science Center about an hour before the transit to photograph preparations and a scientific presentation about the event. The sky was completely overcast and gray from horizon to horizon. Even the staff at the science center were skeptical that the viewing would be possible. However, right at 6 p.m., there was a break in the clouds as a little black dot appeared on the edge of a reflected image of a bright circle. The historic event had started.

After I photographed all the oohs and aahs of the people looking at the sun through telescopes and plastic solar viewers, I decided to try to photograph the actual event with my own camera.

I hurried to retrieve a 600mm lens and a 1.4x tele-converter from my car to set up the shots. My first attempt with my 850mm lens resulted in a bright white circle with no black dot. It was only after I borrowed a solar filter from the science center to put over my lens that I was able to get acceptable results. I was able to photograph the transit with clouds moving intermittently across in front of the sun for about 45 minutes, creating some historic and visually interesting images.