In 2004 as I planned a festival to observe the Transit of Venus at Harvard, I asked Kenneth Launie to help me restore some 18th century reflecting telescopes made by James Short of London. These were the very same telescopes that Professor John Winthrop had used to observe the Transit of Venus on June 3, 1769. The next time a transit would be visible in Cambridge, Massachusetts was on June 8, 2004. Wouldn't it be fabulous to see the transit with one of Winthrop's telescopes? We put Winthrop's 1-foot Cassegrain telescope in working order and covered the aperture with some modern solar filter material. More than a 1000 people came to the event to observe the transit with Winthrop's telescope and modern instruments, and be serenaded by the Harvard Band playing John Philip Sousa's Transit of Venus March.
By 2012, when the second transit of the pair occurred, Ken and I had become sweethearts. Venus had worked her charms. We traveled to Mount Wilson Observatory in California with family and friends to observe the transit there. John Briggs, an old friend of Ken's, lent us a very early Alvan Clark & Sons telescope to use. Ken proposed to me between first and second contact while we shared the eyepiece.
We were married in the historic Whitin Observatory at Wellesley College under a wedding canopy, which I quilted. It featured the Transit of Venus across the Sun and incorporated some of the mylar we had used as a filter on Winthrop's telescope in 2004.
We celebrated with a topsy-turvy cake showing us at Mount Wilson. We also held a Scottish country wedding dance. The musicians and emcee surprised us with gifts of music and a dance entitled "The Transit of Venus." John brought us another surprise: a display of "The Launie-Schechner Romance Telescope" through which we had observed the 2012 transit.
You can read about our nuptials in the Vows section of the New York Times.