About Me

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My name is Ryan Demaree and I am an Abstract-Surrealist painter, Science/Astronomy enthusiast and gamer from Columbus, Ohio born October 28th 1991. This blog is a collection of my thoughts regarding events in my life, art, science and anything that generally crosses my mind and urges me to talk about it.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

My Venus Transit 2012 experience

Venus transit- 2012- NASA

This past June 5-6 2012 a very rare planetary transit of the planet Venus across the face of the sun occurred, which only happens roughly 2 times every 100 years, the last time it happened was June 8th 2004 and the next transit of Venus will not be occurring until December 10-11th 2117, essentially 100 yrs from now! So this 2012 transit was pretty much your last chance to grab a glimpse of this rare solar event, unless you have superhuman health and go on to live as the oldest person in human history or you are a new born/ young toddler and even then you would be living past the 110 yr. point, which is a very rare thing to do.

The 2012 transit of Venus lasted about 6 hrs and was visible essentially everywhere on earth either partially or fully besides most of South America and Africa. This transit was best viewed in Hawaii, East Asia and Alaska.

This event was/ is an extremely important event for this time in history due to the fact that this event is completely out of our hands, it is solely the product of nature and even if we wanted to change or even "stop" this event we dont have the power. This event is larger than what we are capable of intervening in.

This isnt an avalanche or a tree falling in the woods that can be detected, prepared for and changed. This is an entire planet perfectly aligning between the earth and the sun for an awe-inspiring solar show for the entire world to watch. This is an event, through Science, that can bring everyone on the entire planet together under the same wave of thinking and the same enthusiasm.

The last pair of Venus transits occurred 1874 and 1882. These were times were only those working in the field of Science, Astronomy more specifically, who had access to state of the art equipment of the day were able to see the event. Now we live in a world where television, the internet, mass telescope supplies available to everyone is all at our disposal. We are able to take a very rare, beautiful and scientific event and broadcast it to the planet through the inventions of television and the internet and the wide variety and availability of astronomy equipment to everyone.

We are truly in a Space-Age where we have essentially covered everything here on earth and are now looking on out to space to find our next challenge and to learn more about ourselves. I feel that the Venus transit events, as well as similar events, help to bring EVERYONE to the table, not just the scientists and the science enthusiasts, but everyone on this planet for the sake of making the next giant leap forward. Getting folks interested in Science is a lifeline for progress here on planet earth.

The Venus transit isnt purely an event of aesthetic beauty and visual mastery, it also has very practical meaning in scientific study and progress in the terms Exo-planet studies, whereas exo-planets are planets outside of our solar system around other stars. The Venus transit helps these studies because exo-planets are so far away and their home stars are so bright in comparison that telescopes simply cannot pick up on them. One of the methods of detecting exo-planets is measuring a stars brightness and keeping track of when the stars brightness dims and comes back and by how much in dims and for how long and how often. This "dimming light" of the star can be an indication of a planet, or planets passing in front of this star being observed. The transit is essentially a close up version of this method and helps us to see how much an average sized star [like our sun] dims when an earth-sized planet like Venus passes in front of it. This method has been progressed to such a degree that due to the dimming factor and amount of time dimmed and how often scientists are now even able to take decent guesses at what type of planet they are observing through the method and whether or not it is earth-like or essentially jupiter-like.

The most exciting find through this method was the exo-planet named"Gliese 581g"

This planet is of interest because it is calculated to be in the "habitable zone" around its parent star, where it is not too hot and not too cold, as well as being "earth-sized"

You can read more about this planet here- http://www.space.com/16673-gliese-581g-habitable-planet-existence.html

Now that I have given the technical side of the solar transit I would like to give a more personal side to this rare event.

I have been into science/ astronomy all throughout my life in some way or another but it wasnt until about my sophomore year in highschool that I really started to take a more serious interest into astronomy. I had a small 50mm beginner Meade refractor telescope that I had recieved as a gift at the age of 8 or so as a christmas and by the age of 17 I had decided that I wanted to start stargazing and actually looking up into the night sky and to find planets, galaxies, stars and anything else that I managed to find. So the summer just before my junior year in highschool I spent many of the nights in the backyard observing the nightsky, not knowing really what I was looking for, but was willing to search and appreciated everything interesting that I found.

By december of this same exact year [2009] I was taking a big interest in getting a larger/ more professional telescope to set goals with and to find more specific targets in the night sky. So, around christmas time again, I took money that I had received as gift and bought both a Meade 80mm GoTo refractor telescope [a telescope that electronically tracks planets , stars, galaxies etc.] and a much larger Zhumell Dobsonian 10" reflector telescope. i also ended up picking up various eyepieces and a barlow lens for my telescope viewing experience and I found the free online star generating program known as "Stellarium" which generates the night sky from anywhere in the solar system at any time of day >>> http://www.stellarium.org/

By the time summer of 2010 rolled around I had gotten both a laptop and a beginner imager for some basic planetary/ Moon astrophotography to get myself going in the right direction and eventually develop time-lapse astrophotography and even DSO's [Deep Space Objects- Galaxies, nebulae etc.]

Here are some examples of my astrophotography

1. Planet Mercury -

Mercury in distorted color 
Mercury in true color-Gray

This is my latest of planet Mercury, as well as my best. The first image is Mercury in color as perceived from the earth, distorted by light and atmosphere, the second one is a more realistic tone for the planet, gray, much like our moon.

 [This is some of the only footage of the planet Mercury on youtube]

The Moon and Jupiter during the day-

Here is some video that I have taken of the moon and the planet jupiter towards sunset.

This video was actually featured on the front page of youtube in the "Featured" category in an "Amateur astrophotography" feature that gained me 36,000+ views in 1 day.

So now that you have a little understanding at how I kinda got into astronomy and stargazing in the first place I can tell you my 2012 Venus transit story.

After I grew into star-gazing and astronomy I started to upload my astro-videos onto youtube early- mid 2010 and began taking make-shift pictures of the planets/ moon through a handheld video camera and eventually through a beginner astro-imager that I had gotten that summer. It was a Celestron Neximage Solar System Imager. Not the most amazing imager, but definitely good enough for planetary and moon astrophotography. 

I had eventually gotten images/ video of all of the planets, bright stars and the moon and was kinda pushing the limits of my dobsonian 10" reflector and my beginner Celestron imager so my simple planet/ moon/ star images/videos onto youtube, although while impressive and fun, I was looking for a new challenge in my growing astronomy/ stargazing quest.

By 2011 I had began starting mini-astronomy video series on youtube that gave people tips on which telescopes to get, what they do and how to use them which I called my "Astronomy tips" series, another which I called my "Astronomy forecast" series in which I gave a 3 months at a time, 4 times a year forecast of night sky events through the help of the night sky generating program stellarium, and the last series being called "Astronomy talk" in which I covered interesting general science/ astronomy topics in which I gave my own personal opinion on, rather than a purely technical matter of fact based series, it was a more free and opinionated based series, while still based on fact and logic at its core.

Astronomy tips -

Astronomy forecast-

Astronomy talk-

Through some of my research for my 2nd astronomy forecast [which covered june 2012 in it] I ran across the fact that a planetary transit was coming up, this was about 4 months before the fact of the transit, I discovered this sometime in February and thought to myself "I have pretty much pushed the limits of my telescope regarding planetary and moon viewing, astrophotography and I already now have whole video series for astronomy on my channel, maybe the next step is solar astrophotography?"

This couldnt have happened at a more convenient time, because I had now spent early 2 years doing planet/ moon/ bright star astrophotography and nearly pushed every limit that i could have with my scope as well as began astronomy series videos and all, it was time to push myself forward another step in order to get better at astrophotography and closer to doing more serious work.

I had even began thinking about this a year earlier, summer of 2011 because a nice factory built solar filter built for my telescope would cost me about $100-150 or so, essentially the same as my barlow piece and other similar equipment cost me.

Unfortunately for me, I waited far too long to purchase a factory built brand new solar filter for the venus transit, foolishly, thinking that I could just drive into town or jump onto google and toss down $150 or so a few weeks before the transit and everything would all be perfectly fine. This however was NOT the case. Initially I has waited and kinda procrastinated on buying a solar filter for the transit because I am kinda tight on money, I am a young 20 year old man that is in the works at building a career for myself in the arts, and this tends to mean money is nearly always guaranteed to be tight.

By the time I was thinking "hey, I really need to think about getting this filter" I was up in Canada visiting my girlfriend for a month. That being said, I kinda had it in the back of my mind that id think about it while I was up there, was it worth it? what if the clouds shut me off from the event? im low on money, do I absolutely need this experience?

These were all very legit questions from my stand-point. I am after all a broke, young artist in the American economy and the weather could very will ruin the entire event and although the filter wouldnt be a waste, I could still use it to view the sun, it would be a big punch that I wasnt sure of taking the risk for.

So, I finally sat down with my girlfriend and we decided that this was indeed worth the money spent as it only happens roughly 2 times every 100 years and that i would most likely not be around for the next one in 2117. So I decided YES, it will be a good chunk of money and things could go wrong but the risk is well worth being part of this amazing event.

I had actually thought about this event nearly the ENTIRE 11 hour greyhound busride up to Toronto, Canada from Ohio and about how  wanted to purchase this filter for my telescope and have a mini star party with Friends and even do a painting in tribute to this great event and I just kept thinking "do I have the money? The time? etc." But I was fairly determined. I could picture the painting in my head and I could picture myself being a par of this solar event.

Well, as I was in Canada with my girlfriend while looking and searching for a filter online I would periodically check my mail on m computer and something out of the blue that completely turned my situation upside down. I had come  realize that I had in fact had a potential buyer of one of my paintings. This was EXACTLY what I needed. This completely covered the money aspect of my situation very thoroughly, as my paintings are priced between a few $100 and $1000 or so in price. This buy would not only purchase my solar filter, but also a new canvas to do a painting for this project. It was a perfect triumph. It took a few days to seal the deal and once it was sealed I had a guaranteed $300 coming my way.

^^^Me announcing my painting sale

Oil on canvas- 40 X 30 in. [1 in.] -2010 - Contemplifuxuation- Ryan Demaree

This painting essentially made my entire project possible. This is an older painting, from a point in time where I was heavily interested in Cubism and kinda growing my style.

With this sale, I confidently and furiously continued my search on for someone who still had filters in stock, me and my girlfriend even went searching locally to see if any of the astro-shops around there had anything. Nobody had anything. I was too late. I waited too long. I made tons of phone calls, visited a local shop, did tons of amazon/ ebay/ google searches and still found "OUT OF STOCK" on every site. Every rare site that DID have solar filters in stock had very obscure scope sized filters that werent the right size for my scope or they would say "pre-order, this item will not be available until july" which was pointless, because the transit was in june. So after I finally get the money situation figured out, i now have to worry about how in the world am I going to find a place that has optics in time for me to catch the event, I had come so far but was still very far away from where I needed to be.
I furiously searched online to find a filter my telescope ad was even tempted to buy one of the obscure sized filters and just makeshift it and tamper with it to make it fit, but that was too risky both money wise and health wise, a wrong move looking at the sun poorly prepared can leave you blind.

After nearly a week of searching in our off time at night together as we wound down the day, I finally came across a few good buys for the filters and was eager to snatch up these fine catches before they vanished and the dreaded "OUT OF STOCK" or "Wont be delivered until July" signs popped up.

Essentially what led me to finding these rare final last minute options was the fact that nearly all factory made telescope were out of stock, so now I was onto thinking about making a solar filter of my own. With the right supplies and the right searches via the Internet, this should be fairly easy, I thought.

So, all in all I come across 2 available filters that could let me see this event and be able to catch the transit.

1. The first thing I came across was the smaller, less appealing, but still amazing last minute option, which was a small 80-90mm black polymer mini filter that would be perfect for my smaller 80mm Meade refractor telescope. This as being sold for around $12. This was a sure buy for me, it was being sold on a small, beginners obscure, had to find astronomy accessories site that was at least 30 pages into my google search on "solar filters". I purchased it.

2. A 12 X 12" in. sheet of black polymer for someone to build their own solar filter. This was being sold on ebay for $50. I instantly saw this as an opportunity to not only have a filter for both my telescopes, but to also save alot of money while still gaining 2 filters. I quickly bought this filter and it was scheduled to arrive to me by May 27th - June 4th . It was being shipped to me from Israel. None of this was a problem. To me the fact that id have filters for the transit was enough to keep my hopes up.

I now had the money from selling a painting to purchase everything for this huge experience, and I also have now found filters in stock and have them ordered just in time. Things were looking good.

So, the very next day after I ordered the filters I said my goodbyes and traveled back on down to Ohio. The filters all arrived in time and I had time to test them out and I had time to build my solar filter.

80mm filter -

10 in. filter -

I now had both filters in my hands, tested and ready to use.

I had also completed the painting that I made in tribute for this amazing event.

Oil on canvas- 60 x 48 [ 1.5 in. ]- in.-2012 - Solar broadcast [Transition]- Ryan Demaree

I felt so strongly that I had to do this painting for a variety of reasons. The primary reason being that this rare 2012 Venus transit was a very large event in my life, both as a person and as a person living in this point in time on earth. The secondary reason being that while up in Canada with my girlfriend a series of perfectly timed events essentially led up to me creating this image, from the painting sale to the last minute purchase of my filters for the event, but also the fact that while I was up in Canada I managed to catch a summer Picasso exhibition that was in Toronto. Within this Picasso exhibition included many of my all time favorite works ever, including Picassos "Massacre in Korea" and his goat sculpture, these were all imported/ rented from France. Seeing one of my favorite paintings in the world [Massacre in Korea] by one of my favorite artist of all time [Picasso] along with the momentum of the on-coming Venus transit and my already large and strangely lucky breaks in getting my equipment ordered in time all together inspired me further, and determined me to do this painting in reverence of this rare and awe-inspiring event.

^^^ Me and my girlfriend talk about the Picasso exhibition

Pablo Picasso – “Massacre in Korea”, 1951
Along with the excitement and honor of the up-coming Venus transit and my struggle/ story with it and my visit to the Picasso exhibition featuring one of my favorite paintings of all time, there was still more to push and inspire me to create.
While up in Canada with my girlfriend we also experienced quite an event during one of our nights out star-gazing. I make it a habit to take my smaller telescope with me when I visit her in Canada just so that I can share the experience that I love of star-gazing with her and see her excitement during the process of it all.
During one of our nights out with my smaller / portable telescope and her binoculars we were out in an open field close by to where she lived to view the planets Venus, Saturn and Mars through my tiny 50mm telescope. This was a fun challenge that brought us closer together and gave us a challenge to overcome, looking for Saturn through a small beginners 50mm telescope is no easy task, especially if the telescope has a very small / unprofessional tripod that needs to be set on a platform to perform.
Later during our night out in the field we ventured towards the entrance to a wooded area to have a darker observing area away from the street/ lights etc.
While we are there my girlfriend catches my attention by pointing out a strange object that was zipping through the sky at a pace similar to that of a slow moving airplane.
I quickly turned the attention of my telescope to this object and discovered a gold/ brown/red-ish object that appeared to be slowly rotating horizontally / vertically with 5 circle/ discs in the rotation with unidentifiable details in the middle. I followed this object the best I could until it disappeared behind the trees to try and think what it could possibly be and shortly after this event me and my girlfriend went home and wrote down all of the details of the sighting and searched online for potential targets f what it could be.
-Details for the sighting-
Location- Mississauga, Canada
Date- 5/11/12
Time- 11:20-11:30 PM
Temperature- Decent
Sky conditions- 7/10 [Clear - Medium-High light pollution]
Visible at mid-low sky just above the trees as a semi bright object, no extremely bright, but definitely noticeable and showed detail to the naked eye from the ground, looked sort of like rotating cluster through telescope with 5 rotating disc/ orbs.
^^^ I have included this "U.F.O." that I saw in Canada with my girlfriend in the upper right hand corner of this painting because the coincidental nature of it occurring shortly after I sell my painting and shortly before the Picasso exhibition/ Venus transit I feel that it is a superb and intriguing addition to this line of perfect events.
^^^A closer look at the UFO.
^^^ Here I apply a hand drawn simulation of what I saw that night in as straight-forward detail as I possibly could. These 4 sketches were done within the hour after seeing this strange event. This object moved in a similar pattern to this in a horizontal/ vertical medium-slow rotating motion with what looked , vaguely, like 5 small circles or discs.
These events all culminated and emerged into what became "Solar broadcast [Transition] "
I figure the fact that I am a painter, an abstract-surrealist painter, and the fact that Picasso was also an abstract painter and one of my favorites of all time and being in Toronto while I was there and the fact that this Venus transit was coming around the corner and that it was both an important world event as well as a personally important event to myself and the fact that "Massacre in Korea" was a painting by Picasso made about an important event during Picassos life, the world wars and it holding personal value to him as well being an event of war, which he was passionate about. I feel that this was all coming together quite strongly.
The Venus transit was my first large world event as a young adult to take notice of a pay homage to, just as past master painters did during their lives and the fact that I had the chance to visit that exhibition right in time for the transit and the fact that I had sold my first original painting just in time to pay for my supplies for this event and that I actually acquired all of my supplies in time for the event just before absolutely everything went out of stock. To add to the series of flowing events, I was caught off guard during the middle of my trip by an interesting object that I couldnt identify flying through the sky at night, and for the fact that I am an avid stargazer and have seen many things in the night sky and despise hoax UFO stories and have actually seen space debris, satellites, airplanes and the International Space Station all through my telescope more than on one occasion each it kinda makes me wonder what it could have been, likely it was space debris or a close by satellite, maybe even the space station, but it didnt appear to be any of those things through my telescope.
This painting of mine is the broadcast of a rare Solar event, representing the transition in my state of mind and a further step forward in my progress as a Surrealist, working to make sense of the Universe.
In the end, my Venus transit event was blocked out by clouds.
After all of the preparation and planning and strange chance/ luck events. The weather turned its back on me and one of the only real cloudy days of the summer was June 5th-6th.
I still tried my best to catch even the smallest glimpses of this event, but nothing worked. This rare transit wasnt to be seen through my telescope. I had to watch this event live via broadcast from Hawaii.
Even tough the weather did not cooperate. This was one of the most ground breaking experiences in my entire life and I will never forget how many things coincidentally went correctly for my "Solar broadcast [Transition]" painting.
This will be the first of many life altering and mind-perception altering experiences in my life.
 I will end on these notes
^^^Venus Transit aftermath video
Solar broadcast [Transition]
I have another story to tell, that came later during the summer of 2012 that was also a culmination of perfectly aligned events that even follows up to this story.
Consider this a Part 1
-Ryan Demaree