SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – Westchester Amateur Astronomers President Douglas Baum was one of the many people standing on the back porch of James House in Sleepy Hollow waiting for the clouds to part so he could see the Transit of Venus.
“It's certainly not something in our lifetime we'll have an opportunity to see it again, so this is it,” he said. “I'm prepared to wait for two hours and hope for the best. If we get a view, fantastic. If we don't, I know at least this was my last shot and I gave it all I could.”
About 30 amateur astronomers gathered Tuesday evening at James House to watch the planet Venus make its way across the Sun. James House is situated on the Phelps Memorial Hospital Center grounds overlooking the Hudson River, giving viewers a perfect view once the clouds dissipated.
Transits of Venus occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years or 105.5 years. The last transit in the current pairing took place in June 2004. The previous pair of transits were in December 1874 and December 1882. The next pairing of transits will be in December 2117 and December 2125.
Tuesday's Transit was visible throughout Westchester County from 6:04 p.m. to sunset.
Harry Butcher took photos in 2004 and said he was confident the clouds would cooperate.
“There's a nice break in the clouds there,” he said, noting there still was time left for everything to clear up.
Event organizers brought a variety of telescopes to James House so viewers could watch the transit, including projectors and video equipment. Some viewers brought eclipse glasses and found themselves looking for a small dot on the sun.
While viewers in Sleepy Hollow waited for the clouds to vanish, Baum noted a group of the Westchester Amateur Astronomers had hopped a train to Philadelphia for the celestial event, hoping the cloud deck would allow perfect viewing.
“Some members didn't want to take a chance,” he said.