Saturday, 16 June 2012

Video of the Transit

A video created by the cruise director (Michael Shapiro) of the Paul Gauguin about our experiences on the pier in Bora Bora.

It was quite a Transit Party!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Bora Bora Transit Day

Looking through the Hydrogen Alpha - Paul Gauguin cruise ship in background

Yes you can see a little dot on the Sun

After being educated by Virginia (ship's translator) some local kids look at Venus cross the Sun

Solar Viewers are great fun when something is going on with the Sun

Local craft vendor takes a peek

Our observing station on the tender pier in Bora Bora
Photographs sent in by Roger Langton, a passenger on the Paul Gauguin Transit of Venus cruise. While our observation platform may look isolated, it isn't and we had a constant stream of locals stopping by for a look at the Sun and the Transit of Venus.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Reports and Pictures

I've started a report and pictures page for the Transit of Venus 2012. So far I've received images from the Caribbean, Polynesia, USA, Europe, and Australia. This transit was widely observed from all corners of the Earth.

From our own vantage in Polynesia, it was interesting to also observe the reaction of various people. The kids that stopped by our observing site out of simple curiosity seemed to know very little about what was happening. They kept asking if an eclipse was taking place. I am not certain of this, but I believe that the term "transit" as applied in astronomy is not a direct translation to French. Perhaps the term eclipse is used instead making the questions they asked more reasonable. When the name Captain Cook was mentioned by the translator everyone understood what was going on and they went to get more friends to look through the scopes. Whether the connection was clearly made or not, I will never know.
Stage on the Paul Gauguin, a very nice presentation platform

Our fellow cruise passengers were a varied lot. I did a pre Transit of Venus presentation on board sharing information about the when, where, and how of the event. Some knew nothing about the upcoming event and were pleased to learn more. Some knew about it in detail and were on the cruise for the purpose of seeing the transit from French Polynesia.

What I found interesting as an eclipse chaser who has been on numerous cruises for eclipses was the lack of equipment brought along to photograph or observe the Transit of Venus. Other than Denise and myself (we brought a long focal length camera, hydrogen alpha telescope, and solar filters) no other cruise passengers were equipped. Fortunately, the telescopes on board the Paul Gauguin cruise ship were up to the task. The 10" had a full aperture solar filter producing very pleasing views of the solar disk replete with sunspots and the circular disk of Venus.

Captain Zupan inspects the telescopes during the transit

The 12" was put to task by projecting views of the transit. This turned out to be the most popular method by which most saw the event take place. We were able to watch ingress as a group and that was fun when it started exactly as predicted.

Josh Smith (Safety Officer) holds up the screen as the transit begins

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The Southern Sky

While in French Polynesia we were treated to some awesome sky viewing in relatively light free sky. The only negative was the near full moon (there was a lunar eclipse early in the week) that rose up in the evening and took out the dimmer stars.

The Paul Gauguin cruise ship is equipped with two large reflecting telescopes (Orion 10 and 12). Add to that a knowledgable crew (with iPod apps if needed) with lots of experience and we have the makings of a great star party.

Here are some pictures of the night sky as we saw it. About an hour or two or three after sunset... click on the images for a better view. The most frequent item sought in the southern sky was the Southern Cross or Crux. It is easy to find as seen in the following images.

Southern Sky as seen in Tahiti (30 second exposure Sony NEX 5N)

Finding the Southern Cross

Constellations visible
I want to personally thank Megan, Lars, and Josh of the Paul Gauguin who organized and ran several star parties during our recent voyage. You guys are amazing and are doing a fantastic job. I've been involved in thousands of star gazing sessions and while a bit more advanced than your average cruiser, I was impressed with the smooth presentation and confidence in the subject demonstrated. Excellent job!

Pictures of a Transit

The Transit of Venus. Some images from Denise as I was too busy answering questions and repositioning telescopes. Denise spent a lot of time repositioning the hydrogen alpha telescope and was very busy the entire time as well. We saw most of the transit clearly until a bank of clouds (with rain) came in. Due to the haze in the air (being on an island in the South Pacific) we saw the tear drop effect quite clearly as seen in the following images.

More images can be found at

Monday, 4 June 2012

Partial Lunar Eclipse Photos

Denise was able to take some pictures of the partial lunar eclipse last night using our Canon 400mm telephoto lens (hand held) while I was leading a star gazing group on board the Paul Gauguin in French Polynesia. We had good views through thin clouds although the images do not show it.

Near mid eclipse - Denise Kramer 400mm (cropped)

The start of the eclipse - Denise Kramer (400mm cropped)
Now we are looking forward to seeing the Transit of Venus tomorrow morning. Weather is looking questionable however I am confident we will see it through holes in the clouds.

Friday, 1 June 2012


We have arrived in Tahiti to observe the partial lunar eclipse and the Transit of Venus. The weather is amazing with clouds hanging over the center of the islands but clear around the edges. Pictures will be coming soon.