Pittsburghers watch Venus cross the sun - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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  • Pittsburghers watch Venus cross the sun

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    Eye on the sun
    (Keith Hodan/Tribune-Review)

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    Venus made a transit across the face of the Sun today, giving stargazers from Australia to Mt. Washington a rare view.

    The last such transit was in 1882. Nineteeth-century astronomers might have been surprised to see the crew of people who met on observation deck of the Duquesne Incline at 6:15 this morning to watch the final portion of the planet's trip across the sun, just as space travel and short skirts might have thrown them for a tailspin.

    "This is as close as most people ever get to outer space. This is just completely amazing," said William Lewis said, 24, of Mt. Washington, as he snapped digital pictures of projections thrown from telescopes on to white paper backgrounds.

    The planet came through the Celestron reflector telescope lenses as a black dot on the sun's white expanse. The scale from the 'Burgh: Think of placing a pencil eraser in the bottom right edge of an Eat'n Park Smiley Cookie.

    Miguel Sague, 53, of Penn Hills, sat in the sun's peach morning sun with incense burning in the middle of a sacred rock formation. In his right hand, he held a long feather, using it to fan smoke emanating from the incense.

    This visible crossing of Venus is particularly momentous to Sague's Mayan faith because it is a mere eight years before a year expected to usher in "a window of opportunity where humanity will take a path to perdition or choose the path of salvation. This is one of the sign posts leading up to it," Sague said.

    Upon hearing another visible Venus transit will occur in the sacred year of 2012, Sague became exuberant like most Pittsburghers would be if they, for example, won a package of season tickets for the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates all at one time.

    Other observers had more laid-back attitudes.

    Emily Jack, 25, of Bloomfield, planned ahead, struck by the possibility of catching an eastern U.S. one-time deal.

    "This only happens every 200 years or so, so I feel like I'd be missing out. It's good to have something that pulls you out of your regular routine. It gives you a chance to see things a little differently," she said.