Transit of Venus 2012
If you miss the Transit of Venus on the 6th June there won’t be another one until 2117, so this is an event not to be missed!
Transit of a planet occurs when the planet passes directly between the Earth and the Sun so that as seen from the Earth, the planet appears to pass across the face of the Sun. Since the phenomena was first recognized there have only been six transits of Venus – 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882 and the most recent one in 2004. The 6th June 2012 transit is our last opportunity to observe a transit of Venus, as the next event occurs on 11th December 2117.
The 1769 transit has a vital historical connection to Australia. Lieutenant James Cook was dispatched to Tahiti on HMS Endeavour to observe the transit. After a successful observation he was directed to search for the “great south land” thought to exist in the South Pacific Ocean and following that search he discovered and charted the east coast of Australia.
For the transit of 6th June 2012, Venus will take about six hours and a half hours to travel across the face of the Sun. Australia is one of the best places on Earth from which to observe the transit as the entire transit will be visible from eastern and central Australia.
This is a very exciting opportunity but remember to view the transit safely. Never look directly at the Sun or you may cause serious and permanent damage to your eyesight. There are many safe ways to view the transit; visit an observatory, use a solar scope or watch the transit live on the internet.
The Transit of Venus Australia 2012 website will be streaming the transit live. This website also has some great resources and activities for students to complete in the classroom. The Transit of Venus team are also co-ordinating volunteer surveyors to assist with observations in schools. Please contact the Transit of Venus Team at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know if a volunteer is available in your area.
Scienceworks Planetarium will be hosting a Breakfast with Venus. Join Dr Tanya Hill for breakfast and witness this once in our lifetime event. See the moment when Venus crosses onto the Sun and discover the stories and history that surround this momentous event. For more information call the Scienceworks Booking Office on 9392 4819.
The sessions to view the transit of Venus at Sydney Observatory are booked out. However, Captain Cook Cruises is offering a Transit of Venus breakfast cruise in association with Sydney Observatory. Powerhouse Museum curator, Dr Des Barrett, will accompany the cruise to provide guests with an informative commentary about the transit.
Direct from the Sydney Observatory, the transit will be broadcast to the world live via the RiAus website. They will also have audio clips to accompany the viewing from RiAus Director Dr Paul Willis and Curator of Astronomy at the Sydney Observatory Dr Nick Lomb. View at riaus.org.au/livestreaming, no bookings necessary for this online event.
Hubble also cannot look at the Sun directly, so astronomers are planning to point the telescope at Earth’s Moon and use it as a mirror to capture reflected sunlight. Visit the ESA Hubble website to see how astronomers will be using the Transit of Venus to investigate Venus' atmospheric makeup.
Take your own measuremnents of the transit using the Transit of Venus Simulator
The Astronomical Society of Australia has developed a fact sheet with instructions on how to observe the transit safely and how the measurements were used to calculate the distance from the Earth to the Sun.
If you are interested in the history of the transit, you can view a collection of historic maps and photographs on the Melbourne Observatory website.
In centuries past, explorers traveled around the globe to time the transit of Venus to determine the size of the solar system. The Venus Transit Phone App will allow amateur astronomers with smartphones, both Android and iPhone, to time the ingress or egress of Venus and to easily submit their observation together with their GPS co-ordinates to a central site to replicate this experiment with modern technology.