Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Transit of Venus

Today Venus will cross the sun. Many people are excited about this transit of Venus. And, yup, so am I. I am not the expert on this. But I know some things.

Such as when it starts and ends here in Flagstaff-- around 3:00 p.m. until after sunset. It lasts long enough that I didn’t need to reschedule my son’s orthodontist appointment that also starts at 3 p.m.

I know that you are not supposed to look at the sun or you will burn your eyes out, something like that. We still have our # 14 welder’s glasses from viewing the solar eclipse so we will use those. We might then head to either the U.S. Naval Observatory or Lowell Observatory. The U.S. Naval Observatory has resurrected a telescope that was used in the 19th century during that Venus transit.

 I also know that this event is rare. I won’t be alive for the next Venus transit(unless something very strange happens). Venus orbits the sun inside Earth’s orbit but is tilted so it rarely crosses in front of the sun from our vantage point here on Earth. The next time Venus crosses in front of the sun will be in 2117 And then again in 2125. Someone is going to have to get out some models to show me how this works, but for some reason the transits occur in pairs eight years apart and then not again for another century. The last Venus transit was in 2004.

What’s important to me is that we get to see it today, all of us, those who care to anyway. Some sites are broadcasting this event live, so even if your skies are socked in and grayer than gray you can watch this event. This is a chance to see our brilliant evening/ morning “star” in dark contrast against our tremendous sun. It’s definitely worth a look.

Bad Astronomy & EarthSky are chock full of Venus transit information.
Bad Astronomy will be hosting live
EarthSky's viewing tips.
Today’s APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) is “live” of the Venus transit

 Enjoy the view!