I have to admit I do have a tendency to get a bit star struck. Not the celebrity kind, the astronomical ones.
From a very young age I remember staring at the night sky in total awe.
My favourite smartphone app is the Sky Map.
To me there’s nothing quite so romantic as being with the one you love and watching a meteor shower or catching sight of a ‘shooting star’, as we grew up calling them.
And watching the start of the Transit of Venus this morning I’m convinced that’s one of the reasons I am with my husband today.
A fellow journalist, he’s been writing a few stories about this event so it was no real surprise when he said we were going to pick up some solar glasses so we could look directly at the Sun and see it.
It was a no-brainer that we would go somewhere together to do this.
But I never expected to get the viewing we did.
Michael studied some astrophysics (among other things) at university and, like me, whenever there is some astronomical phenomenon about to happen he gets quite excited.
He tries to explain them to me – often to no avail – but I love his passion for this stuff!
Not long after we met we saw Comet Hyakutake, the following year it was Comet Hale-Bopp and there have been numerous meteor showers, eclipses and alignments of planets we’ve endeavoured to see. No mean feat sometimes when we lived in the UK.
I remember us both being with another friend one morning, we got up really early to try to see a meteor shower, Michael and I were both quite excited – even though nothing much eventuated – but our friend was not at all impressed.
I knew then Michael was special.
In the middle of winter in Brisbane we wrapped up one night and lay down in our backyard to watch a lunar eclipse.
At Port Douglas when the temperature dropped to 12C you could find us sitting on the beach staring at the stars. They were so bright you felt like you could touch them. I will never forget that moment.
Just this year we’ve had a near-alignment of the Moon, Venus and Jupiter, a Super Moon and this week a partial lunar eclipse and now the Transit of Venus.
Michael started to explain the significance of it all some time ago. I had no idea that was what James Cook was documenting before he discovered Australia.
We all apparently missed the event in 2004 – the first Transit of Venus since 1882 – and if you missed it this time, well I’m sorry, you missed it. The next one is in 105 years time.
So there we were this morning up bright and early, armed with our solar specs, heading off to the Brisbane Planetarium where Michael knew a number of enthusiasts would be with their telescopes and devices to be able to view it safely.
He wanted a quick chat with the Planetarium curator and then next thing we knew we were invited into the main dome for a private viewing.
I often tell journalism students that one of the perks of the job is you get invited into people’s lives and places where ‘normal’ people just don’t get to go. This is a prime example.
On the dot of 8.16am it began and I could have cried.
I looked at Michael and I knew I’d married the right man!
Oh and by the way, we are already booked to go to Cairns this year for the total solar eclipse.