Planet Venus will cross the face of the Sun Tuesday afternoon, June 5th (the morning of June 6th for people in Asia and the western Pacific). Left: I shot this image in New Hampshire during my 2004 Venus transit expedition
This is called a Transit of Venus
This event will truly be a once in a lifetime experience. The next Transit of Venus won’t occur until December, 2117 (105 years hence!)
I will be hosting a “Transit of Venus” observing party Tuesday June 5th at Granny’s restaurant, 4405 Hwy 11, Elizabeth, Indiana. Granny’s is located at the intersection of Hwy 211 and Hwy 11 about a mile north of the town of Elizabeth. Image left, Carol, Elise and Brandi will be our hosts at Granny’s. That’s Susie trying to hide behind Carol
The Transit Party will start at 3:30 PM with a “Pinhole Camera” workshop. With a pinhole camera you will be able to safely watch the transit (and the Sun for as long as you keep your camera) without using a telescope!
Registration is required for the “Pinhole Camera” workshop. Register here. Leave name and phone number or email address. Each participant will be required to bring a shoebox or oatmeal box, a 1 inch square of aluminum foil and a white 3×5 index card
At 4pm I will present a program to explain what we’ll see and what to look for during the transit with some historic perspective and facts about the scientific experiments to be conducted during the 2012 transit
At 4:30 we will break for snacks (possibly Venus Transit pizza or cupcakes?). We’ll also play the “Who Wants to be an Astronaut” quiz for some neat prizes
We will start observing the Sun and sunspots at 5:00 PM with a telescope outfitted with SPECIAL SOLAR FILTERS
NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN…PERMANENT EYE DAMAGE WILL RESULT
The Transit will begin shortly after 6pm.
Here is a lecture from one of my favorite astronomers, Williams college professor Jay Pasachoff, that will give you some background about the significance and splendor of the transits of Venus
Amherst college astronomer David Peck Todd travelled to California to observe and photograph the 1882 transit from atop Mt. Hamilton, site of the Lick observatory. He took nearly 150 images. For a variety of reasons his images were all but forgotten until 2003 when Anthony Misch and Bill Sheehan realized Todd’s glass negatives were stored in a vault at Lick. Misch and Sheehan “re-animated” Todd’s images to create this “moving picture” video
After sunset we’ll do a little “planet gazing” after removing the solar filters from the telescopes if there’s interest. Mars and Saturn are prominent in the evening sky now and there will be a relatively low (20 degree) pass of the International Space Station shortly after 10 pm. I will provide free star maps of the June skies for the first 20 families to attend
In the event of cloudy weather we’ll watch streaming video of the transit online, however seeing Venus crossing the face of the Sun is much more exciting when watched at the telescope or with a pinhole camera so cross your fingers for clear skies!
Remember, NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN! SEVERE EYE DAMAGE WILL RESULT. We will have professional, safe filters on our telescopes for this event. Hope to see you there!
If you can’t join us for the Transit party or attend a public viewing you can safely observe the transit with a pinhole camera. Transits aren’t dangerous, looking at the Sun is! Permanent eye damage can result in an instant. Fashion a simple pinhole camera made from a shoe box. Here’s a handy how to video from Natalie Wolchover at Space.com