Monday, June 4, 2012
Transit of Venus
On Tuesday, June 5, 2012, the planet Venus will cross between the Earth and the Sun such that Venus can be seen as a small disk on the face of the Sun. A Venus transit occurred in 2004, but will not occur again until 2117. The Transit of Venus has been used historically to calculate the size of the solar system, and such work funded global expeditions, in particular by Cook. Planetary transits are also how the Kepler mission currently finds planets orbiting other starts. There is a wealth of information about the transit, past transits, and the Kepler mission being put out by NASA:
If you are near Morgantown, WV, the WVU Physics Department will be hosting a viewing and several stations to learn more. Solar Scopes will be set up on the patio along Willey Avenue for safe viewing of the transit. NASA’s live webcast will be shown. An iPad station for learning about the Sun and viewing data from the Solar Dynamics Observatory and STEREO missions will be available. There will also be videos about historical Venus transits and how they were used to determine the distance from the Earth to the Sun; and how the Kepler mission uses transits to find planets orbiting other stars. The Tomchin Observatory in Hodges Hall will be open for viewing the transit. Physics Department members will be available to answer questions and direct visitors to each activity. These events will occur from 6pm until sunset (about 8:30pm) when the transit will be viewable from our area.
If you are not near Morgantown, you can find out when the transit will be viewable in your area, search for viewing events near you, watch the live webcast from Hawaii, or learn how to make a safe solar viewer (do not look directly at the Sun!) at http://venustransit.nasa.gov/transitofvenus/.