June 6th was the day of the Venus transit. A very special astronomic event that can be observed again only in the year 2125. What made it amazing for me was the fact that I was actually able to see it and not only read about it. Usually eclipses, transits and special flickering stars are seen best in some exotic places, islands or the desert. Hong Kong certainly is exotic and yes, the transit could be seen. In Estonia, even if the time would be appropriate (this year it happened during the night, so difficult to observe), there would always be clouds. And the need to go to some special observatory to have the equipment to see the heavenly events.
In Hong Kong I stumbled over information that a “temporary observing station” was opened to the public on Avenue of the Stars. This is a chic promenade on the southern tip of Kowloon (mainland Hong Kong) overlooking the skyscrapers on the Hong Kong island on the other side of Victoria Bay. Local film industry stars like Jackie Chan have left their “mark” (handprints) there just like in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
My eagerness to see Venus pass in front of the sun as a black little dot was so great that I forgot to bring my camera. So I have found some pictures from the internet to illustrate the event. What I did get, however, as a proof of having been there, were two stamps about the transit of Venus as well as two about past solar eclipses in Hong Kong.
The observation center had been open and running since 6 am with information booths, video cameras and an array of telescopes in different sizes to follow the event. Special solar viewers were handed to people to be able to look directly into the sun in a safe way. The history of the Venus transit was explained as well as how to measure the sun’s distance from earth by photographing the transit in different locations of the earth, for example. There were models showing the planets in the solar system and once again, many many telescopes to see Venus moving from around 11 o’ clock to 2 pm on the solar blade.