Never let it be said that not much happens in our lives as on June 6 we get to witness a LAST time event for this century . . .
Luckily, Granville and I will be able to view it locally (about 6:09 pm) at the NASA Visitor Center/Wallops Flight Facility which will provide safety viewing glasses and a presentation. The Visitor Center is on near Chincoteague Island, VA about a 40-minute drive from the Frog & PenguINN. Let us know if you would like to come along !
The Transit of Venus is one of the rarest astronomical phenomena and it’s happening in the evening hours of Tuesday, June 5. Venus is the second planet from the Sun; we live on the third planet, Earth.
Like a solar eclipse, Venus will move across the face of the sun and block light from the sun to Earth. During the transit, the planet Venus passes directly between the sun and Earth, becoming visible against and obscuring a small portion of the sun. Venus will be seen from Earth as a (very) small black disk moving across the sun’s surface. Venus is much farther away from the earth and it appears smaller and travels more slowly across the face of the sun. Transits are usually measured in hours (2004’s was 6 hours). This transit will take about 6-1/2 hrs and it won't happen again until Dec 2117.
Transits of Venus are occur in repeating pattern every 243 years. Pairs of transits are eight years apart separated by (VERY) long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. The last one was on June 8, 2004. Previous transits were in Dec 1874 and 1882. The NEXT Venus transits will be in Dec 2117 and 2125.
Most of North America will see the beginning of the transit in the afternoon and evening on June 5; much of Eurasia sees the end of the transit in the morning on June 6. However, it will not be visible from most of South America or western Africa.Venus transits were used to gain the first realistic estimates of the size of the solar system. Observations of the 1639 transit, combined with the principle of parallax, provided an estimate of the distance between the sun and the Earth that was considered more accurate than any other up until then. This current transit will provide scientists with a number of other research opportunities, including the refinement of techniques to be used in the search for exoplanets.
CAUTION — the same precautions used to observe a solar eclipse are needed to watch the Transit of Venus. Staring at the sun without appropriate eye protection can cause serious or permanent eye damage. So, if you plan to watch, just use proper eye protection.
Some online viewing sites for the Transit of Venus:
- Map of transit of Venus: nasa.gov
- Details of transit of Venus: earthsky.org
- Observers Guide: www.space.com
- History of transit of Venus: astro.ukho.gov.uk
Graphics courtesy of NASA