Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Venus Transit - June 5/6 2012

On June 5, 2012, you will see the planet Venus as it moves across the face of the early morning Sun. This astronomical oddity has played a very important role over the last few centuries in giving scientists a way to understand the size of the solar system.

There have been 53 transits of Venus across the Sun between 2000 B.C and 2004 A.D. History says that Jeremiah Horrocks was the first human to ever witness a transit by Venus in 1631, but could other more ancient people have also seen it too? We will review the history a little closer over the next couple of days.

The Transit of Venus is among the rarest astronomical phenomena and won't happen again until the year 2117. 
Do you want to see this event and maybe participate in one of the organized events world-wide? Here you can either submit your event or find an event close-by.
A Brief History of the Transit of Venus; by Dr. Sten Odenwald (NASA GSFC)
As seen on the Sun, Venus is as big as a large sunspot. You could see it with the naked eye if you knew exactly when to look. But, because you cannot look directly at the sun except when it is close to the horizon, you would have only a very short time to be lucky to see it, and a reason for wanting to look at the sun on the horizon in this way at all!
The ancient Babylonians were the earliest sky observers who kept detailed records. Four transits occurred during the Babylonian Era on May 20, 1641 BC, November 20, 1520 BC, November 18, 1512 BC and May 23, 1406 BC. Could any of these be seen? Keep reading here
Get Involved Venus Transit 2012
Prepare of the event and then be part of the event. There are many ways to be and get involved. 
- Educators; here is a collection of lesson plans and "easy to do" activities. Everything from building an edible model of the Sun (and it tastes great) to learning how to make a real space weather broadcast!
- Public Outreach; you great museums, planetaria, youth clubs and amateur astronomers groups - take part in this "last in our life-time" event! Here are some Program Ideas. 
- Amateur Astronomers; you are the backbone of night and day time sky observations. You have spent countless hours behind your telescope and cameras and you have helped spread the word like nobody else. So make sure you are part of Venus Transit 2012 too. 
- Scientists; you Miss Lab Rat and you Mr. Data Cruncher can also get involved and provide various resources and help educate and inspire kids. You can visit classrooms and help teachers! Besides, you need to be out in the Sun once in a while! 
Over the next few weeks I will continue to update you about this event. Keep checking back!