Don’t Let The Next Venus Transit Over The Sun Catch You Unprepared

Venus’s transit over the sun occurs when planet Venus positions itself between the Sun and the Earth, kinda like the solar eclipse we had a few weeks back.

The timing of this astrological phenomena is kinda weird, a couple of transits 8-years-apart occurs every 105 (or 121) years. So the next transit of Venus across the Sun won’t take place until 2117. This is plenty of notice – about a centery worth – but if you get to the last minute and still find yourself unprepared here is a neat fast trick from Jeff Finkelstein to get you back on your feet.

Here is the image of the Venus Transit, with my DIY $2.00 rig

Venus Transit of the Sun

Tech Details for Image: Canon 5D Mark III, 70-200 f/2.8 lens with 2x extender, DIY filter taped to the UV filter, shot at 1/400 second exposure, f/8, ISO 1,000, on a tripod with mirror lockup and a remote release, manual focus.

I combined my cheapness with my knowledge of optics, and came up with this $2.00 solution:

1. First, I purchased a pair of $2.00 Eclipse glasses at our locally-owned hardware store. I actually purchased 10 pairs, but only so I could safely tell my staff to stop doing billable work and go stare at the sun. Which they did.

Eclipse Glasses

2. I peeled the paper off of the Eclipse glasses, and used the film (bigger than the eye opening), but still not big enough to cover the entire front of the 77 mm lens.

3. I then took an old, slightly scratched and unused 77mm UV filter (I gave up filters for Lent one year… and never went back to using them) and used gaffer tape to tape the rectangular eclipse glasses film onto the middle of the filter.

Gaffer Tape, old UV Filter and the film from Eclipse Shades

4. Next, I carefully taped around the edge of the rest of the circular filter, to black it all out. I tested this with a super-bright LED video light, to make sure no light leaked in on the sides.

5. I made sure to trim the gaffer tape so that it wouldn’t interfere with the screw threads (using sharp scissors).

6. I screwed the modified UV filter onto the lens and pointed the camera at the sun.

Canon 5D Mark III with 70-200 mm f/2.8 + 2x extender

7. I shot in manual mode using f/8, so the aperture would be a small enough hole that didn’t require the entire 77mm of the front lens.

FYI, I came up with the idea during the last solar eclipse, when I just had a pair of eclipse glasses and a 50mm f/1.4 lens on the Canon 5D Mark III. I stopped down the aperture to f/8, and just hand held the eclipse glasses in front of the big lens, hoping to not blind myself. This rev 2.0 is much safer.

About The Author

Jeff Finkelstein is a photographer and the web guru behind customer paradigm from Boulder, Colorado. You can follow his adventures on Facebook, Twitter and G+.

  • Rayc

    I got a car windshield film for free ;)

  • Rod_AG

    Hi Jeff!
    I’m Gustavo, from México. As a hobby I run a blog in Spanish mainly focused on science & art. I’m preparing a new blog post about the Kepler Space Telescope and I’d like to illustrate the blog post with your venus transit picture, may I have your permission to do so? If you allow me to use your pic you’ll be properly credited and I’ll include links to the pic and to your blog.
    Just in case you want to take a look to the blog before making any decision, here’s the url: http://www.notaminima.wordpress.com
    Also, you can find me on twitter as @RodAG_ if you want to ask something. Thank you in advance!