Categorized | News, Opinion


It was May 9, 1970:  A young boy is trying very hard to get the Sun in his telescope through deep but not entirely cloudy skies.  He’s safe, don’t worry – in fact safety was a big reason for the frustration of the day.  But it was to no avail – young soon to be Virginia Right blogger Sandy Sanders missed the transit of Mercury.  (On top of missing the March 7, 1970 solar eclipse!)

This was the start of a losing streak for transits of both Mercury and Venus that rivals the Cubs for futility!

November 10, 1973:  Sandy was in the Hospital!  An unknown stomach ailment had our astronomer on duty explaining to the men in his hospital room (I am sure one or more of them said, “I get sick and I get Einstein in my hospital room!”) about the impending celestial event.  When he was rushed to the Er, Sandy thought to smuggle in a small telescope.  But he could not get the Sun in it.  Missed again!

November 13, 1986 – the transit of Mercury was not visible anywhere near the USA

November 6, 1993 – Ditto!

November 15, 1999 – It’s a long wait since the hospital in 1973 but finally near sunset the transit of Mercury was visible where Sandy is.  But it’s nearness to the horizon stymies efforts and the losing streak continues.

May 7, 2003 – There was a similar experience this time and I missed it again.

June 8, 2004 – The transit of Venus, one of the seminal events of my boyhood experience (along with Halley’s Comet and any total solar eclipse) occurs early in the AM and sandy took off to make sure no work issues occur.  Sandy’s friend, Jack Resch, had the scope up and ready but we were fogged out.  (Jack was a great friend, fellow libertarian and astronomy buff who died on tax day 2009 [he had the last laugh!] and I wish he were here for today!)

I also got to explain later that day to an avid golfer who was whining he missed a putt on the 18th hole that he should be glad he did not take up astronomy.  If you miss the transit of Venus, you might not see it again for a hundred years!  Talk about a missed putt!

November 8, 2006 – a transit for Mercury occurred.  I am not even sure what happened here.  But I missed it!

So, what will happen today?  If we look outside, it is not encouraging.  There also is a concert tonight featuring my daughter Tory.  Can’t miss that!  7 PM!  I got to talk to that band teacher!

We’ll see…Lord willing, let’s break that streak today!

The Richmond Astronomical Society is having a presentation, weather permitting, on the transit of Venus this evening.  See this website for details.

Please join members of the Richmond Astronomical Society at the Science Museum of Virginia as we view a transit of the planet Venus across the face of the sun on June 5 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM.  Our astronomers will have properly filtered telescopes to view this once in a lifetime event.

In Northern Virginia, join NOVAC at Crockett Park:

Observe the Transit of Venus with NOVAC!
On June 5th there will be a special astronomical event (weather permitting) where Venus will cross the face of the Sun. This event is called a “transit,” and on the east coast will start at about 6 PM and for us will end at sunset. This event will not occur again for more than 100 years. Join NOVAC members for this once in a lifetime event at Crockett Park. Come early and enjoy solar viewing. Click HERE to view and download a flyer for the NOVAC transit of venus event.

Several of the Back Bay Amateur Astronomers will be at Mt. Trashmore in Virginia Beach for viewing the rare event. For a local viewing in your area, try here.  REMEMBER:  NEVER STARE at the SUN even for a few seconds – you can suffer eye damage!

Don’t miss it:  the next transit of Venus is December 10, 2117.  And it’s not even visible in the Eastern US!

UPDATE:  It is similar to the 1970 clouds – heavy but slightly broken clouds with some sun visible.

I have a small department store telescope at the ready in the back of my car and I am listening to the NASA broadcast from Mauna Loa, Hawai’i.  We will not need a lot of power “magnification” for this event.  I also have a eyes only solar filter I brought from the total solar eclipse in Paraguay in 1994.

WE DID IT!  Rhett and I saw the transit through the solar filter from Paraguay!  YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!     Thank the Lord!



About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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