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Clouds part in time for a peek at Transit of Venus

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By Amy Daybert
Herald Writer
Published:
  • The transit of Venus, seen from the visitors center at Hurricane Ridge.

    Photo by Bill Lider

    The transit of Venus, seen from the visitors center at Hurricane Ridge.

EVERETT -- The weather finally cooperated.
Members of the Everett Astronomical Society brought telescopes and solar filters to Legion Park on Tuesday to try and see an astronomical event that won't occur again for another 105 years.
The Transit of Venus is when the planet passes directly in front of the sun. The event happens in pairs that are eight years apart, said Mark Folkerts, president of the society. The last event occurred in 2004 and it won't happen again until 2117.
For most of Tuesday, the cloudy skies prevented the 10 hardy souls at the park from seeing the last-chance-in-their-lifetime event. Then, the clouds parted just enough for the viewers to get to see the Transit of Venus and take some photos.
"Spectacular, I was really excited about this," said Ron Mosher, 50, of Marysville. "I didn't think I'd get to see it at all."
Mosher, who is also an Everett Astronomical Society member, secured a sun filter to the end of his telescope with masking tape and pointed it toward the cloudy sky.
Nearby Folkerts, 56, set up one hydrogen-alpha telescope on the grass near the "west bluff" parking lot portion of the park. It's a special type of telescope that filters out all but the red light that the sun gives off, Folkerts said.
"We got to see it and we have the photographic proof," Folkerts said. "Here nobody expected to be able to see it."
If you're interested in astronomy in Western Washington, sometimes you just have to wait. Folkerts and Mosher stayed throughout the evening for a chance to glimpse the planet.
Bob Taylor, 73, of Everett, was also prepared to wait. He read an article about the Everett Astronomical Society holding the public viewing at the park and wrote a reminder to himself so he wouldn't miss it. He showed up at the park with his camera.
"I won't be around in another 105 years, this is my last chance," he said. "I thought there would be a lot of people down here."
The small group watched a patch of blue sky open up and hoped that the clouds would disappear. Mosher looked at websites on his phone with photographs of a visible Transit of Venus in places like Oahu, Hawaii, saying that was what it was supposed to look like.
And then, the clouds parted for a short amount of time. Just enough time for the astronomers to see it with their own eyes.
"I was almost happier that I got to see it under these types of circumstances," Mosher said. "It made the payout better."

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.

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