Otago has best view of Venus
Wed, 06 Jun 2012 6:33p.m.
By Leanne Malcolm
Central Otago proved to be the ideal place to view today's transit of Venus.
The snow storm battering large areas of the South Island side-stepped Otago, much to the delight of school children and amateur astronomers.
All around the world, they were lining up to see Venus – a tiny black ball against the might of the sun.
And some Alexandra students from Dunstan High School were among the lucky ones.
“Oh I thought it was real cool because I haven’t seen it before and I don't think I’ll be seeing it again,” one student says.
“Pretty cool just to come out today and see this… because I know a lot of schools aren’t doing this and not many people are able to see it,” another says.
The students didn't take any chances today. If they couldn't see anything through the telescopes today they had special welding masks and solar slides to view the sun.
But as it turned out, they didn't need either.
In Queenstown 150 years ago there was the same anxiety about whether the transit would be visible.
Some Americans set up a special viewing place on the site of the current Millennium Hotel to monitor the extraordinary event.
Astronomy enthusiast Barrie Wills was excited to see the transit.
"None of us that are around here today are going to see it again. None of us saw it last time around. And yeah it’s absolutely fascinating that we can see it and get a good view of it here in Central Otago today.”
Amateur astronomer Alan Thomas took the day off work to witness the phenomenon.
“[It will] be something that I’ll talk about for a long time and the students will too.”
The spectacle is bound to inspire young astronomers everywhere.
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