Venus Flyby

Published: 2012-06-04 10:40 |

Category: Science | Tags: teaching


Flickr CC, howzey

Tuesday, June 5th and Wednesday, June 6th, we have a great opportunity to see the planet Venus travel across the face of the sun. This event is called a

transit and it is significant because of the timeframe between each event. It is over 100 years between each transit, but they come in pairs eight years apart. The most recent transit occurred in 2004, so tomorrow’s event is the second of the pair. If you miss it this time around, unfortunately, you won’t be able to see it happen again until December 2117.

I’m sure you’ve heard of this in the news, but if you are interested in watching it for yourself, here are some resources to help you plan.

  1. When is the best time to view the transit? – This depends on your geographical location. Luckily, the majority of the continental United States will be able to see a portion of the transit at sunset on June 5th. Because this is so rare, there are parties and events popping up all over the country where you can watch the transit with others in your area.
  2. How can I watch the transit? – Never, never, never look directly at the sun. Ever. Unless, of course, you want permanent damage to your retina to occur. So, to safely view the transit, you’ll need to do some basic DIY using household materials. A great website, Transit of Venus has a list of six ways to see the transit safely.

Personally, I will be using a pair of binoculars mounted on a tripod projecting on a white space. Here’s a great video on how to set up your binoculars if you want to do the same.

  1. What causes the transit? – It’s always good to learn something, so this website does a great job of explaining what causes the Earth and Venus to line up every 120 years or so.

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