Raining on the Transit of Venus' Parade at the Stamford Observatory

Heavy cloud cover and a malfunctioning telescope trumped the once-in-a-lifetime live view of the Transit of Venus.

Almost 200 people gathered at the 's Observatory Tuesday night to try and catch an in-person glimpse of the transit of Venus across the Sun's surface, a rare occurrence the won't happen again until 2117.

Delayed arrivals, last-minute malfunctions and spattering of clouds prohibited a successful viewing, however, with those in line waiting to look out of the telescope being turned away.

There were a few tears, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing, folks from the center said. Upset kids meant kids who were interested and excited about what was going on. While they didn't get to see the event tonight live, the spark was there to foster.

"We were able to watch the live feed," said Will Kies, Director of Education for the Stamford Museum and Nature Center. "Attendance was great, we had a really good turnout. It's great that the community turns to us for an opportunity like this, but it's still a good lesson to learn. Mother Nature is always in charge."

The center, which spent thousands of dollars on tree work around the observatory just for the evening's planned viewing, will be offering opportunities throughout the summer for interested kids to come back and check out the skies—most of which will hopefully be clearer. 

"It's just really interesting," said 10-year-old Julia. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to see this, and my dad makes it extra interesting because he knows all these facts. It would be better if we could actually watch it, though."

Stamford Astronomical Society member Bill Bambrick, who was on hand for most of the evening answering people's questions about the event, said the event wasn't significant for it's scientific contributions, but for the historical nostalgia the moment would provide.

"The first astronomers trying to figure out how how far the earth was from the sun were having trouble doing it," Bambrick said. "In the 1600s, they realized they could predict the transit and, by looking at Venus moving across the sun from different areas, triangulate our position."

He said, today, scientists already know everything they could learn about the earth from an event like this.

"It's not something we get to do very often," he said. "This is more a celebration of history. We have such accurate technology this generation, there's nothing added here. It's just great to see kids so interested. It gets very difficult and we did our best."

Mother Nature, however, got the final word. See you all in 2117.


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