venus in transit is one of the rarest astronomical events in the afternoon sky. it is when the planet venus passes between the sun and the earth, a tiny little black dot crossing a gi-normous pulsing star that we call sun. the event occurs twice within an eight year period and then not again for between one hundred and five and one hundred and twenty one years. the last transit was in 2004. the next will be in 2117. i persuaded my facebook friend john d. lafond to watch the transit–sadly, john’s wife was working and will have to wait for the next one!
it was an odd “happening” at field outside the parkland observatory four hours from my home. a row of telescopes, a crowd of people, some jimi hendrix playing from a car in the parking lot. there should have been drugs. there were, however, some tie dye t-shirts so it was all good.
i liked how for a few moments, everybody stopped worrying about their job, their children, money, the upcoming elections, the just past elections, the kardashians, whether they remembered to turn off the coffee maker when they got home, and whether their life has meaning. instead, something completely outside of themselves, something eternal, something that puts all of this in perspective captivated every person in the field. the transit of venus is six hours from the first little blip on the side of the sun to the other–but the parking lot at parkland observatory was pretty much emptied within two. the transitory worries returned. how i’m going to pack up everything in my house? where i will travel to next? and really–did i turn off the coffee maker?
i have known john since junior high school, and his wife alice since they married. john and i keep in touch on facebook by playing scrabble. he always beats me. he also always beats his brother jerry. jerry told him that the reason john always wins is because jerry himself is a deist and believes that God creates the universe and then lets it unfold without His hand. john believes in an active God who is always with us. jerry offered to hand deliver a note of thanks to the Pope if he won a game of scrabble with john. i’m still putting my money on john.
and then this venus remembered there’s still more transit to come–miles to travel, planes to catch, gas stations to pull into, and facebook friends to meet!
June 7th, 2012 at 3:40 pm
Astronomy really helps to provide some perspective. I used to keep a picture on the bathroom wall, so whenever I got depressed about the cabinet that jiggles and the sink that won’t drain, I could look instead at a picture of a glowing nebula spewing out new stars, and think about the immensity of the universe. Surprisingly helpful.
June 8th, 2012 at 4:39 pm
Love this post! As always, delightful 😀