Links: Teacher Resources
Create Your Own Stained Glass Window. Kids design their own window with words and images, akin to those windows in St. Michael's Church in Hoole, England, which celebrate the transit of Venus.
Hands-on activity that illustrates and explains the frequency of transits of Venus using simple paper plates. Now available as PDF file with illustrations, improved from original posting at http://analyzer.depaul.edu/paperplate/Transit%20of%20Venus/transit_frequency.htm.
The Fall 2011 issue of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) newsletter, The Universe in the Classroom, features the transit of Venus in Don't Miss the Transit of Venus in 2012: It's Your Last Chance Until 2117. The article, authored by Chuck Bueter, recounts historical expeditions and technological gains through the centuries while looking forward to Kepler Mission findings using the transit method. The article is complemented with links to hands-on activities and online resources.
Mathematical Problems Featuring Transit Applications, by Dr. Sten Odenwald. Transit Math book from NASA opens with dozens of math problems and answers related to eclipses, transits, and occultations, with an emphasis on transits of Venus through the centuries. Problems align with AAAS Project: 2061 Benchmarks as detailed in a Mathematics Topic Matrix. The PDF document includes summaries of the historic aspects of the transit and a diverse collection of modern images and historic images alike. Stated emphasis for Transit Introduction is on grades 3-8, while Transit Math challenges grades 5-12. "The problems were created to be authentic glimpses of modern science and engineering issues, often involving actual research data...The problems were designed to be ‘one-pagers’ with a detailed Answer Key as a second page."
Free workbook (http://www.transitofvenus.nl/files/TransitOfVenus.pdf) from Steven van Roode addresses the frequency of the transit of Venus, angular measurements, parallax measurements to establish distances, and finding the physical properties of exoplanets from light curves. Also available as hard copy.
Going All Out For Venus, an article in the March 2012 issue of Planetarian, Journal of the International Planetarium Society, summarizes transit of Venus history, outlines related education outreach, and includes sidebars about Kepler mission and Sun-Earth Day events; written by Chuck Bueter. Reprinted with permission of the International Planetarium Society (IPS).
Abundant education resources from NASA Kepler mission, which uses the transit method to detect habitable planets around distant stars. Excellent website includes:
- Classroom Activities
- Formal Education, Informal Education, and Public Outreach
- Models and Simulations
- and much more.
PlanetQuest Exoplanet Exploration is an engaging site for news and multimedia about NASA's search for new worlds. Keep pace with current tally of new and candidate planets; get your questions answered by Astronomer Steve; create your planet with Extreme Makeover; check out the great videos from multiple NASA missions, and always see the latest exoplanet news at the forefront of science.
The Transit of Venus program features a combined DVD and data CD set, an audio CD, a slide set of 200+ images, and supporting web pages. The DVD, though emphasizing the 2004 transit of Venus, can be used as a stand-alone show or as part of a planetarium package. The data CD contains 200+ images, mpeg-1 movie clips, and supporting documents. See http://analyzer.depaul.edu/paperplate/transit.htm for more information, including thumbnails of all images and an ordering form. From the Great Lakes Planetarium Association.
Pixel Count Activity has student plot the decrease in light received from a star that has a planet transiting it.
Venus Transit, Educator Guide with Activities in Mathematics, Science, and Technology; from NASA Connect.
Using Transits to Find Exoplanets, a teacher's guide for an activity for Grade 9 science; from the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto.
How Far is the Sun?, "a mathematically intensive worksheet suitable for use in Grade 11 or 12 physics classes," from the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto.
Measure the Diameter of the Sun, from Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network
Eclipses, transits, and extra solar planets, a workshop by Linda Shore, Paul Doherty and Eric Muller
Finding the Astronomical Unit; a math root from Paul Doherty
Transit of Venus: A Scale Model, from Linda Shore of Exploratorium
Jay Ryan illustrates Celestial Almanack, a celestial guide for observing the sky with emphasis on the Christian homeschoolers audience but valuable for all casual observers. Online guide continues his quality illustrations and descriptions leading up to the 2012 transit of Venus.
In the current epoch, transits of Venus generally occur in pairs--eight years apart--that are separated by over a century. Astronomy author and illustrator Jay Ryan described the circumstances that create periodic transits, reprinted here with his permission.
The 2012 Transit of Venus by Paul Deans is an 8-page reprint from Mercury magazine, Summer 2011.
Using Transits to Find Exoplanets, from University of Toronto, gives diagrams and examples from which students derive answers and plot graphs about exoplanets.
Chasing Venus Teacher Resources from Smithsonian Institution Libraries includes "exercises and lesson plans designed to accompany and enrich the study and discussion of the June 2004 Transit of Venus." Eighteen activities engage grades K-12 in multiple subject areas:
- Two Views of the Universe (K-6; Science and Geography) Students build two views (Aristotle's and Copernicus') of the universe and describe the differences.
- Collage of Geometric Shapes (K-5; Mathematics, Art) Students identify different geometric shapes and use the differences in the building of collages.
- Shadow Games (K-5; Science, Measurement) Students discover how light source, object, and distance affect the shadow's shape.
- Silhouette Outlines (4-6; Science, Measurement, Art) Students document how light source, object, and distance affect the shadow's shape by making silhouettes.
- Paper Plate Observation (4-6; Science, Measurement) Students simulate the documentation of the Transit using paper plates and marking the path of the transit.
- Expedition Stories from the Transit of Venus (6-12; Science, Creative Writing, History, Geography) Students write and role play stories based on the Transit of Venus expeditions.
- Collecting and Using Data on the Common Events (4-12; Science, Mathematics) Students create data tables, collect the data and observe patterns.
- Investigating Longitude and Latitude (4-6; Science, Measurement, Geography) Students use longitude and latitude to determine locations of expedition sites and viewing sites for the 2004 Transit.
- Cardboard Tube Telescope (4-6; Science, Astronomy) Students build telescopes from cardboard tubes that can be used to safely watch the Transit.
- Vocabulary Enrichment (7-9; English, Spelling) Students learn the meaning and spelling of various terms associated with the Transit and use the terms in sentences.
- Using Means, Medians and Modes (4-9; Mathematics, Statistics) Students calculate means, medians and modes for a series of observations and report conclusions.
- Using Triangulation (6-12; Mathematics, measurement) Students use triangulation techniques to determine measurements.
- Measurement Conversion (3-8; Measurement) Students identify common and uncommon measurements and build conversion tables.
- Expedition Diaries (7-9; History, Creative writing) Students choose an expedition to research, form expedition teams, keep individual diaries and compare diaries at the end of simulated expedition.
- On the Shoulders of Giants (10-12; Science, history) Students research the important astronomers and scientists and make presentations on their achievements.
- Putting the Transits in Context (10-12; Science, history) Students research the important events that were taking place during the major expeditions and make presentations on how they may have influenced the expeditionary teams.
- The Transit in Pictures (10-12; Science, art and media) Students write screenplay and produce movie or animation of a transit including narration.
- And now a word from our sponsor... (10-12; Science, art and media) Students write and produce public service commercials promoting the Transit of Venus and providing information about its safe viewing.
Don't miss this extensive collection of resources from the fun folks at NASA's then-named Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum.
- Find out "What's Happening in Your Area?"
Register and get a free Sun-Earth Day kit--a packet of transit of Venus resources from NASA.
Our Very Own Star: The Sun, an animated story for children, accompanied by coloring sheets; in English and Spanish.
Ten Things You Thought You Knew About Sun-Earth Science. A list of common and uncommon, famous and infamous misconceptions about solar-terrestrial physics.
Venus Transit Animation, from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio. [2004-02-22]
- Magnetic Reversals http://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry/venus/Reversal.html
Fact and Fiction-Students compare two science fiction stories and a scientific appraisal about what might happen when the next magnetic reversal happens. They critically evaluate fictional claims to identify factual errors.
- Magnetic Variations http://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry/venus/MagRev.html
Students use tabulated data to create a graph of Earth's magnetic intensity. They forecast when, or if, our current field will actually fall to zero-strength in the future.
- Timing the Transit of Venus http://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry/venus/Vtime.html
Students perform basic time calculation exercises based on actual historic transit timing data. Topics covered include elapsed time, time differences and time conversion.
- When Do Transits of Venus Happen? http://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry/venus/Vyears.html
Students complete a table of values and predict the dates for a transit of Venus visible from the Earth based on rates and patterns.
- Timeline http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/sunearthday/2004/vt_edu2004_venus_68.htm
Use the resources on the Timeline to discover the story of why the transit of Venus was an important astronomical event.
Calculate AU to Kilometers http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/sunearthday/2004/2004images/VT_Activity3.pdf
Before the critical measurements of the Transit of Venus in the late 1800s, distances in the solar system were expressed in Astronomical Units (AU). But nobody knew what an AU equaled in miles or kilometers. The AU was simply the distance from Earth to the Sun. So astronomers needed to calculate the AU in kilometers! To do this calculation fo r yourself follow the activity provided.
Detecting Planet Transits http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/sunearthday/2004/2004images/HabitablePlanets.pdf (24K)
Students model NASA's Kepler mission observations of planetary transits (a planet moving in front of a star) by standing in a circle with model star (light bulb) in the center, and observing, through rolled up paper viewing tubes, a marble planet orbiting the star.
This activity encourages a discussion about what makes a planet habitable. Students learn that for a planet to support life like we find on Earth, it must have: (a) the right temperature range for there to be liquid water, and (b) the right size range to be able to have suitable atmosphere.
- Finding the Distance to the Sun http://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry/venus/Vdistance.html
The students will apply the concepts of vertical angles and ratios to calculate lengths and angles. Can they determine the distance to the Sun?
Project CLEA lab exercise enables students to observe images from the 2004 transit of Venus and use measurements of those images of the sun from three terrestrial sites to determine the distance to the sun in kilometers. Software, student manual, and full dataset are available free of charge.
Australian transit of Venus resources from the perspective of surveyors Down Under.
The European Southern Observatory led an extensive program in 2004 that was loaded with information--a thorough website for transit of Venus observers, educators, and enthusiasts.
A global observing program in which participants contribute data to determine the distance from the sun to earth; from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the European Association for Astronomy Education (EAAE).
Education sheets for teachers.
CD ROM of historical documents.
Modeling and the Transit of Venus, by David Quinn and Ron Berry, University of Queensland. In this math activity, students "combine the elements we have calculated and generate a model of Venus’ orbit that will allow us to identify when an alignment will occur, and whether that alignment will result in a transit."
The Systemic Weblog, written by Greg Laughlin, reports recent developments in the field of extrasolar planets, with a particular focus on observational and theoretical astronomical research work. Tutorials show how to use the Systemic Console, an advanced program that "uses an intuitive graphical interface to analyze data in order to detect and characterize planets."
Transit of Venus a Stroke of Luck for Teachers, by Arkan Simaan; School Science Review, March 2004, 85(312), pp. 95-100. "This article describes briefly the significance of this phenomenon and its historic and scientific importance. It then proposes a few ideas for educational activities, some of which are of interdisciplinary and international interest."
Solar Music - Helioseismology,"encourages students to realize you can learn about an object by listening to it. Astronomers listen to the Sun's heartbeat to learn about the inside of the Sun." From National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO), 1999.
Lesson plan describes how to measure the Astronomical Unit using the Voyager II software; (PDF file).
The Singing Sun is a recording of acoustical pressure waves in the Sun made by carefully tracking movements on the Sun's surface with the SOHO spacecraft.
"How to measure the Earth-Sun distance by studying the transit of Venus;" from the European Association for Astronomy Education (EAAE).
NASA Connect offers lessons and exercises on scaling the solar system.
"The transit of Venus, 8 June 2004: a teachers’ guide to finding the Earth–Sun distance;" by Robin Catchpole for the journal Physics Education, May 2004, pp. 252-266.
User- adjustable Applets about the transit of Venus; by Jürgen Giesen; (available in English and German)..
- Transit Observer
- The Phases of Mercury and Venus
- Planetary Motion of Mercury, Venus and Mars
- Geocentric Motion
- Transit Motion
Planet Quest offers much material about the search for extra-solar planets. Click "Four Ways to Find a Planet" on the scrolling filmstrip to view a narrated animation that shows planet detection methods, including the use of transits.
With this simulation you try to detect exoplanets using observations of transits. After you select a star from a simulated field of view, the simulation develops photometric graphs and other data, from which you calculate the orbital information.
ProjectVenus 2004 is "an observational project of amateur astronomers to determine the scale of the solar system with the aid of the Venus transit in 2004. Groups investigate the historical calculations and observations, set up new procedures, prepare the observation and carry out the evaluation."
"Observing, Photographing and Evaluating the Transit of Venus," a global observing program in which participants contribute data to determine the distance from the sun to earth.
Teacher activities address the circumference of earth, parallax, distance to the sun, and Kepler's Laws. Site also lists historic background, visibility times, current research, and more. In 2004 the organizers in Norway sought other observers for global project.
Stanford Solar Center offers "exciting activities, images, interactive tools, text, and other resources to let you research our special star -- the Sun."
Measure the universe with a string and a stone. A series of activities allow students to measure the distance to the sun simply, with the lone assumption that Venus is the size of the Earth; from Vivek Monteiro.
Lesson plan describes how to measure the Astronomical Unit using the Voyager II software; (PDF file).
The Student Observation Network tracks solar storms and predicts the impact of solar activity, such as aurorae.
A Toyota TAPESTRY grant has created a clearinghouse for transit of Venus resources. A DVD, data CD, audio CD, and slide set are available at cost for multiple users, including teachers, planetarians, librarians, and other educators.
Animation demonstrates parallax of stars with extended thumb example; from Dave Underwood at University of Colorado.
Introduction to Transit of Venus at Paper Plate Education.
Hands-on activity to record transit of Venus on a paper plate akin to the first record of Jeremiah Horrocks in 1639. Can easily be adapted for 2012 transit of Venus.
Physics Education (Volume 39, Number 3, May 2004) has several articles about the transit of Venus, including a teacher's guide by Robin Catchpole, senior astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich and a paper plate explanation of the frequency of transits. All papers published in the journal are made freely available for 30 days from the date of online publication. See This Month's Papers. [April 28, 2004]
Meet the Neighbors: Planets Around Nearby Stars is an AstroCappella lesson plan to accompany their song Dance of the Planets. High school students investigate the dimming caused by a transit; determine a planet's radius and orbital distance from transit data; and compare results of the extrasolar planetary system with our solar system; ( PDF file).
Extensive bibliography of original sources relating to transits of Venus, with links to many of the original publications; from R.H. van Gent
Poster by a 6-year old shows her explanation of the transit of Venus.
"Activities, based on common questions about the transit, address a range of ages, themes, and levels of individual and group work. They offer points of discussion on understanding how the transit happens, why it happens so rarely, and how scientists are using transits to search for extrasolar planets. Included are printable documents of each activity, in both Word and PDF formats." From Exploratorium.
Don't just look at the sun (with filters). Now you can track and plot explosions on the sun to give astronauts an early warning if dangerous solar radiation is headed their way. Conduct valuable research by joining the scientists of Solar Stormwatch.
Actually find new planets orbiting distant stars using the data from the Kepler mission. Participants steer astronomers to candidate stars by judging the existence of patterns in a light curve. From Planet Hunters.
Make a scale model of the Venus Transit; from the Exploratorium.
MyKepler is an educational program with a vision to involve 3,000 schools (1,000 in the USA) in the tracking and exploration of the Kepler telescope data to discover earth-like planets in the close Milky Way proximity.
Transit Tracks is an investigation in which students describe a transit and the conditions when a transit may be seen; describe how a planet’s size and distance from its star affects the behavior of transits; and interpret graphs of brightness vs time to deduce information about planet-star systems.
"Take a journey into space and find out more about the Sun and its effect on the Earth..." From Sun|trek.
Create Your Own Stained Glass Window
In this activity you create your own stained glass window with words and images to commemorate the transit of Venus.
The Sky for Homeschoolers & Beyond
The inaugural issue from January 2012 sets the stage for everyone who notices the bright object in the western sky after sunset. For Ryan, a goal is to get people to watch the celestial dynamics unfold over time. The 2012 transit of Venus experience begins well before June 5 or 6.
"I’m concerned that most people never even bother to notice Venus, even when it’s blazing bright as the evening star," Ryan said. I’m trying to get people to notice Venus beforehand, and learn a bit about its synodic cycle. This way, they can spot Venus in evening sky through the winter and spring and then watch it disappear into the sunset. Then when they see the actual transit in June, they have some context and hopefully more appreciation for the big picture of Venus’ motions."
High quality illustrations are evident in the free preview of the Celestial Almanack, and when you download and see the complete version you will find much that satisfies for $3.00. Stellar activities...
Book: The Transit of Venus: The Quest to Find the True Distance of the Sun, by David Sellers; ISBN: 0954101308. Excerpts are available online at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/magavelda/ds/venus/ven_ch_frames.htm.
Book: The Transits of Venus; by William Sheehan and John Edward Westfall. ISBN: 1-59102-175-8.
Skylore from Planet Earth: stories from around the world...VENUS; by Dayle Brown.
Extensive bibliography of original sources relating to transits of Venus, with links to many of the original publications; from R.H. van Gent.
Book: Hokuloa: The British 1874 Transit of Venus Expedition to Hawai'I, by Michael Chauvin; ISBN: 1581780230.
Book: Chasing Venus, by Andrea Wulf.