Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Transit

So, The Transit is now past and so is all the hype surrounding it, for the time being at least. The hype didn't touch me though. And I was surprised in the beginning at my own indifference to this. I remember myself being very excited about total solar eclipses (even partial/Lunar ones), the first time I spotted a sunspot (pun unintended), meteor showers that never reached their potential, seeing jupiter and its moons, seeing saturn's rings, seeing andromeda. Basically anything related to astronomy always used to excite me. But I felt nothing about the Venus transit. It was nice to see some pics online but nothing more than any other average APOD pic. I wonder why others seemed to be so excited about this. To me it was nothing out of the ordinary. You see venus everyday, and you can see sunspots very often. At best this was a slighty larger than an ordinary sunspot. Something that people would've missed had they not known what to look for and exactly when to do it. Unlike a total (or even partial) Eclipse or a naked-eye comet.

The transit wasn't visible from most of US, but even if it were, I doubt I'd have looked at it more than once during the day. And that too would have been a casual glance at best. Reading about the early AU calculations and the history of transit watching was far more exciting than the transit itself. And yet, it seemed to be the most common topic in media for last 3-4 days. Just because something hasn't been seen by anyone alive doesn't make it exciting IMHO. A lightning stroke is much more common yet much more exciting for me. Maybe because of the randomness and unpredictability of its form.

I don't mind the hype though. It just amuses me. I don't think anyone interested in astronomy would've been REALLY interested in watching this himself. But they all played their part in hyping it. It was more about taking an opportunity to make people excited about science in general and astoromical studies in particular. Its occurances like this that keep people interested in science.

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