This June we have the chance to observe a Venusian Transit!!!!
Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena, occurring in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. Venusian transits occur when Venus passes directly between the Sun and the Earth, thereby becoming visible against the solar disk for observers on Earth. During a transit, observers on Earth see Venus as a small black disk moving across the face of the Sun. The last transit was June 8 2004, so after 2012, the next transits of Venus will not be until December 2117 and December 2125!! Here's a map of where the transit will be visible on June 5th and 6th: transit_venus_2012_5v6.pdf
For more details on observing the transit check out these websites.
Add more to the list if you've found some good resources or know of a observing parties in your area!
And, post pictures!!
Some historical links to the Transit...
This is a planetary event that's happened just twenty-five times in the last two thousand years. Only seven since the invention of telescopes. This is an astronomical event that will not happen again in our lifetimes as the next one is in 2117!
For Australians (and Kiwis), Venus transits hold particular historical significance. Lieutenant James Cook was dispatched to Tahiti on HMS Endeavour to observe the 1769 transit as the timing of the transit was to be used to measure the distance between the Earth and Sun and estimate the size of the Solar System. After a successful observation he was directed to search for the “great south land” thought to exist in the South Pacific Ocean and following that search which took him to New Zealand, he charted the east coast of Australia which soon led to the European settlement of the continent.
"The expeditions pushed science and many scientists to the limit, the unluckiest being the French astronomer Guillaume Le Gentil, who set out from Paris in March 1760 but was still at sea on transit day, 6 June 1761. The rolling of his ship prevented him from taking observations. So Le Gentil decided to wait for the next transit in 1769 and built a small observatory in Pondicherry, a French colony in India, where he waited patiently for the next transit on 4 June 1769.
On the day, clouds filled the sky even though it had been clear every morning for the preceding month. Le Gentil saw nothing. On his journey home, he contracted dysentery and was caught in a storm that delayed his return to Paris until October 1771 where he found he had been declared legally dead, his wife had remarried and all his relatives had enthusiastically plundered his estate. He eventually remarried, however, and enjoyed an apparently happy life for another 21 years." -- http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/mar/25/venus-transit-sun
Today, the transits helps us continue our search for new worlds. The 2012 transit will provide a valuable benchmark for detections of exoplanets by comparison with a known planet transiting a known star.
For the first time in history, there is an app for that ;-)
NASA will be filming and archiving the transit from the Solar Dynamic Observatory, Hubble Space Telescope, International Space Station, Mauna Kea, and live from locations around the globe.
This is pretty cool....at Montana State University, they have arranged to have a giant Transit of Venus party at the Bobcat Football Stadium. That's a big deal in Bozeman! And, the president of the university, Waded Cruzado, is going to give a welcoming address. Our Montana Space Grant Consortium, College of Engineering, and College of Letters & Sciences all partnered to make this a big event.
That is cool indeed! Thank Adi for the historical perspective. This is a nice preview to the book club meeting on Monday! There is a party at the Mountain View, CA, exploration center. I'll be there for the transit. It starts at 3:04pm Pacific Time (US west coast). Clearly, the event won't be as cool as MSU :)
Wow! These are all great resources!! Thanks Adi for providing the historical perspective -I hope you'll be at book club tonight :)
The happenings at ASU aren't nearly as neat as MSU (Suzi, that sounds totally AMAZING!!) but here's the viewing information for anyone in the vicinity of Tempe AZ tomorrow:
ASU's "Astro Devils" Astronomy Club will be at Tempe Town Lake from 3 p.m. until sunset on June 5 for the Venus transit. They will have solar telescopes set up and will be handing out solar glasses for the public to view the transit of Venus with. Students will be on hand to answer any questions the public may have about this once-in-a-lifetime event. You can find the sky-watchers at the Tempe Beach Park, located at: 54 West Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, AZ 85281
It is cloudy here. Stupid clouds.
Cloudy. Arg. Making do with amateur astronomers and their telescopes outside, and Mauna Loa webcast inside...
Ken Williford said:
Great photo Raghav!!
I think my favorite was viewing the transit through a telescope with a Lyman-alpha filter. The sun's protuberances were also visible!