An image from a solar telescope of part of the sun.

An image from a solar telescope of part of the sun.

Local coyote duped by the sun

The Transit of Venus was an anticipated event, both in 2012 and years earlier, in 2004.


The “transit of Venus” is a cyclic astronomical event which generally repeats every 243 years. During the transit, the planet of Venus passes in between the Earth and the Sun and the planet of Venus then appears as a black disc travelling across the face of the sun.

While the event will normally take place twice close together within those 243 years, the periods between transits can be over 121 years in length.

In June of 2004, local solar and lunar photographer Dennis Cumberland travelled to the east coast of Canada to attempt to view the event through his specialized solar telescope.

Unfortunately, after travelling to the other end of the country, Cumberland was unable to see the rare event because of cloud cover.

Despite his disappointment, Cumberland made the most of the situation by writing a humorous story about the trip which he submitted to a contest for stories on the transit of Venus.

For his efforts, Cumberland (a.k.a. Coyote) won himself a pair of solar binoculars.


Coyote and the Transit of Venus


Dennis Cumberland



Coyote had not seen Venus transit the sun in, oh…. about 122 years. This time around he got his paws on a Maxscope 40 from Coronado , which made his chest swell , thinking he would be the first coyote to see a transit of Venus in hydrogen alpha light.

To view the transit he had two options, either go north to the Arctic or go as far east as possible. Thought of the cold made east the logical choice.

He knew he couldn’t walk all the way and his pony was as old and as tattered as he was, so he decided this time he would like to fly. Like always he left everything till the last moment.

At the airport the day before the transit he narrowly avoided being packed in cargo with the pets. Some fast talk and a little sleight-of-paw got him on the plane and he was on his way.

At first Coyote was subdued and sat quietly looking out the window, he marvelled at the earth below, the passing cloud people, the shadows and the view that seemed to stretch forever.

His fear of flying diminished and he began to think of how high he was in the sky. Yes, he was higher than all the lakes, rivers, trees, mountains and all the birds of the sky. He was even higher than the cloud people and the great thunderbirds . He was on top of it all, Great Coyote on Top of Everything.

Nothing could go wrong, he would fly high all the way east and capture the greatest pictures of the transit. All the people on solar chat would look to coyote for his great shots of the transit. Even Jack Newton, Paul Hyndman, Gary Palmer and the rest of the greats would look to coyote. Yes, he would be on top.

Coyote started bragging to anyone who would listen:  the other passengers, the beautiful stewardesses, how he was a solar photographer, one of the best in the business.

This went on for hours and hours. Everyone grew tired and tried to avoid coyote, except for the new passengers who got on at the stops along the way , unaware of the bag of wind they were about to encounter.

Montreal was the final stop before proceeding to coyotes last destination ,Moncton. It was a beautiful evening and the sky was clear which made Coyote even more sure he was on top.

As the plane flew out of Montreal the cloud people grew thicker and thicker. The further east the more grim it looked.

As the great Sun went down he whispered to Coyote “You will not see me tomorrow.” Coyote panicked and ran to the stewardess asking if he could go back to Montreal, as he had forgotten something which was very important. She was annoyed and told Coyote to sit down and be quiet, he had been nothing but trouble the whole flight. Surprised by her rude behaviour he sat down.

As they descended into Moncton there was nothing but cloud people, nothing but cloud people.

Coyote could not sleep as he worried all night. Even counting sheep did not work. At the first light he got up very red eyed and exhausted and saw nothing but cloud people.

He set up his Maxscope 40 anyway just in case. He sat there in a daze and waited. He was a sorrowful sight, nothing of the boastful braggart of yesterday.

Maybe he had offended the cloud people and the great thunderbirds or maybe it was just bad luck , or he had just gone too far as always . Coyote was very depressed. As the transit ended Coyote packed up his equipment with his tail between his legs. He caught a movement out of the corner of his eye – a robin looking for its morning meal. Coyote’s depression disappeared as he thought to himself, “Yum”.

More on the Transit of Venus