Venus crosses the sunJune 3rd, 2012 at 8:13 pm by Tara Hastings under Weather
My first love wasn’t weather it was actually astronomy. When I found out I had to major in physics in order to be an astronomer I freaked out. I always loved math and science so meteorology was a natural fit. However I still love astronomy and anytime there is a neat space related story or celestial phenomenon I have to share it with all of you.
On Tuesday June 5th there will be a transit of Venus. This is a fancy way of saying the second planet of our solar system is going to pass in front of the sun. If you don’t get a chance to see it you’re out of luck because this won’t happen again for more than a hundred years. (2117 to be exact – I’m afraid we’ll all be long gone)
So why does it happen? I’ll try to explain this as best as I can. I’m afraid making a graphic may be a little difficult because trying to explain something three dimensionally in a two dimensional world is difficult. Venus’ orbit around the sun is elliptical. Meaning it’s not a complete circle. Furthermore the ellipse isn’t flat – it’s tilted at an angle. You have to keep in mind when you see a layout of the solar system and all of the planets orbiting the sun they don’t orbit on the same plane. Remember space uses the x, y and z axis. So this is why we don’t see a transit like this come by every time Venus makes its orbit around the sun.
So what will you see? Around sunset (9pm ish) on Tuesday there will be a small black dot crossing the sun. This will be the planet Venus. This is an image from NASA showing where Venus will cross the sun. Notice there is another path from the 2004 transit.
How do you view it? I am hoping everyone won’t just look up at the sun – you’ll ruin your eyes! You’ll need to protect your eyes in order to view this special event. I have found a website that offers some great suggestions. Check them out here I remember making a contraption to view the solar eclipse when I was in high school. We took the cardboard from a roll of toilet paper and covered one end with a piece of paper. Using either tape, glue or a rubber band. Then cut a small hole in the paper. Hold up the tube with the open end toward the sun and you’ll be able to see the image cast on your hand or another piece of paper.
I recently visited the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery and noticed that they have special glasses on sale for only a dollar. The museum is also having a special event on Tuesday.
Now the one thing I’ll work on for everyone are the weather conditions. We have a chance of scattered showers on Tuesday and clouds are not good when trying to observe the sun. So I will be sure to wave my magic weather wand and get rid of all the clouds so everyone (including me) this fantastic event!