Venus transiting over the sun is a rare phenomenon, to see from Earth. It happens twice over a short timespan, and then doesn't appear again for over 100 years. The last one was in 2004, so after this second transit it will not occur again until 2117. It is one of the rarest predictable astronomical phenomena.
The transit takes place on June 5, starting around 7 p.m., and Mansfield will be set up at Privateer Park on the Liverpool waterfront with his telescopes to witness the event. He is inviting anyone with an interest to drop by to have a look.
Mansfield can often be found at Privateer Park gazing at the stars. It brings over the curious as well.
"Generally people will wander over and ask 'whatcha doing?'" he says.
He says it can be fun showing people things in the sky they didn't know were there.
Mansfield has a Facebook group as well, called Queens County Astronomy, that he started a few years ago to share some of his findings. The group has about 90 members, who also share some of their photos of the night sky.
"I've spoken to a lot of people that have just sparked their interest from what I've been doing here," he says.
He drops by at the Thomas Raddall Park in Port Joli during the summer to set up his telescopes for the visitors, as well as the Dark Sky Weekend at Kejimkujik National Park. The Dark Sky event can draw hundreds of people out during the evenings.
Mansfield's interest in astronomy stems from childhood, during the heyday of the Space Age. He says over the years he's witnessed many things, from annular eclipses to the Comet Holmes expanding to an incredible size.
Overall though he says it's a relaxing hobby, and interesting at the same time.
"Another thing that interests me is just trying to grasp the distances of what I'm looking at," he says.
Mansfield also carries with him a laptop loaded with a star finder to help him find things on occasion. It comes especially in handy during the daytime when looking for Venus. The planet is visible to telescopes during the day, but not to the naked eye.
His telescopes are strictly manual however. Computerized ones are available that all you do is plug in what you are looking for and the telescope focuses in. Mansfield prefers manual telescopes though, since it can lead to serendipitous discoveries.
To find a certain spot in the night sky manually, other stars are used as a reference. By hopping from star to star, it brings you to the point in the sky you were looking for. However sometimes along the way there might be something interesting to see.
"I think it takes a lot of the fun away from astronomy," he says. "You wouldn't see that in a computerized telescope."