Transit of Venus was a once-in-a-lifetime show for many
The Transit of Venus was a once-in-a-lifetime show for many who looked to the skies Tuesday.
"It's like watching grass grow," said 93-year-old Don Nicholson, describing Venus' 6-hour, 40-minute progression, most of which was visible locally before sunset. "But if you were told that grass only grows every 100 years, you'd probably want to watch it."
Nicholson has been coming to Mt. Wilson to view the sky since he was a child. His father, S.B. Nicholson, an astrophysicist working at the Mt. Wilson observatory, discovered four of Jupiter’s moons.
California and the U.S. Southwest was presented with spectacularly clear skies, offering the first chance to see Venus moving in front of the sun for the first time since 1882.
The excitement over the transit -- which won't occur again for 105 years -- was not lost among those who watched the spectacle, from the young to the elderly.
At the Leisure World retirement community in Seal Beach, Emily Hoshiko, 90, sat on her walker with a floral umbrella and with a dozen others quietly watched a projection screen showing a small black dot inching its way across a splash of light
“I think it’s amazing you can get a glimpse of something like this,” she said. “I’m not going to be here another 100 years.”
Crowds showed up at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, where astronomers set up telescopes to see the magnified sun. Gushed Chris Spellman, 40, of Monrovia: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime event .... I'm pretty lucky to be alive right now."
At Mt. Wilson above the San Gabriel Valley, astronomers gathered beneath a blue sky with only occasional wisps of clouds breezing by to celebrate the historic transit. Anchoring their telescopes in the parking lot not far from the mountain communication and broadcast towers, visitors from Southern California and from around the country greeted the phenomena with a sense of wonder.
At 3:06 p.m., the edge of the sun began to be obscured by the planet. “I see it” and “I think I see it” were heard from observers peering through a large variety of telescopes, including one that is 15-feet long. Manufactured in 1868, it was set up horizontally with mirrors channeling the light onto a projection that drew a crowd of onlookers.