Transit of Venus Story
A transit of Venus occurs when Venus passes directly between the sun and earth. This alignment is rare, coming in pairs that are eight years apart but separated by over a century. The most recent transits of Venus were a thrilling sight in June 2004 and 2012, with the next transit of Venus pair occurring in December 2117 and 2125.
Observers from two locations on earth see two distinct paths (red and blue) of Venus across the sun. The slight difference in times Venus takes, moving from edge to edge, can mathematically unlock the distance from earth to the sun, and thus the size of our solar system. For 17th & 18th century transits, intrepid explorers set out to answer a leading question of mankind. Not all of them made the voyage back home.
Mystery of "Black Drop"Just before or after the circular black dot of Venus seems to touch the edge of the sun, a peculiar "black drop effect" sometimes occurs between the contact points. A ligament of darkness smears the juncture of Venus and the sun. You can see a similar anomaly if you almost pinch your thumb and forefinger together. Just before you sense contact, a black feature spans your two digits.
Transits Lead the Hunt
Once again, transits are on the leading edge of new discoveries. The NASA Kepler mission and others are using the transit method to find habitable planets around distant stars. The Kepler spacecraft monitors over 150,000 stars, looking for periodic dips in their light curves which reveal the presence of companion planets. You, too, can join this quest for new worlds.
Midwest Treasure: TROVE
Art exhibits, family activities, a bus tour, historic artifacts, lectures, webcasts, telescope viewing, and more complemented the visual spectacle near the Michigan-Indiana border. This hub of 2012 transit of Venus activity in Michiana celebrated the math, science, history, and art of the celestial phenomenon.
- Poster: Transit of Venus Time Keg
- Community Celebrates
- Closure for Transit of Venus
- Vision For Future
- Video Follows Michiana Experience
- Transit of Venus Time Keg
- Viewing Great, Timing Difficult
- Time to Set Sail
- What if it's cloudy?
- You Can Learn a Lot From a Dot
- Can I Use Welding Glass to View the Sun?
Meanwhile, the cover of the March 2012 issue Planetarian-Journal of the International Planetarium Society features Sousa sheet music, accompanying the article Going All Out for Venus. The cover and article are reprinted with permission of the International Planetarium Society.
51446 Elm Road, Granger IN 46530
May 1 to June 9, 2012
Reception 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Deliver art to the gallery 10:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. Saturday, April 28. Art will be released 10:30 to noon Saturday, June 9.
Entrants must be members of NIPS.
Scientists and astronomy enthusiasts are gearing up for this heavenly event, June 5, 2012, when the planet Venus passes between Earth and the sun. We will see the distant planet as a small dot gliding slowly across the face of the sun. Historically, this rare alignment is how we measured the size of our solar system. Visit www.transitofvenus.org for more information.
Members are invited to use ideas such as Venus, planets, sun, moon, stars, space, sky, sunset, new worlds, habitable planets or related themes. The art also will be featured in an online gallery linked to other Transit of Venus events around the world.
A press release conveys that APS played a vital role in the world-wide observation of the transit in 1769 and that several of the instruments used by Rittenhouse and Ewing will be on display.
For details, please contact the museum:
American Philosophical Society Museum
104 S. Fifth Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(Click here to download hi-res poster) Spread the word about events related to the 2012 transit of Venus. You may print these high resolution PDF documents (~32 MB) into a 24x36 inch poster (or smaller), then put your own announcement in the bottom two white banners. This window is reminiscent of the stained glass window in St. Michael's Church, which honors its church member Jeremiah Horrocks. See also Activity: Create Your Own Stained Glass Window for ways to incorporate the window into an activity.
The posters below specify the dates June 5 or June 6 above the year 2012, whereas the main 2012 poster, above, simply has 2012.
By Roy Bishop; from the 2012 Observer's Handbook of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC)
From the third planet, only Mercury and Venus can be seen silhouetted against the Sun. When an inferior conjunction takes place, the appreciable orbital inclinations of Mercury and Venus usually cause them to pass north or south of the solar disk and no transit occurs. Transits are uncommon for Mercury, rare for Venus. During the 20th century, there were 14 transits of Mercury, and 0 transits of Venus. Currently, transits of Venus occur in pairs, with 8.0 years separating the members of a pair, and the pairs separated alternately by 105.5 and 121.5 years, resulting in a 243.0-year period for the pattern.
Johannes Kepler, extraordinary astronomer and author of the Rudolphine Tables of planetary positions, predicted the Venus transit of 1631. Unfortunately, he died in 1630. Jeremiah Horrocks and his friend William Crabtree, in England, were the first to see a transit of Venus, on 1639 Dec. 4. Beginning with the transit pair in that century, years having Cytherean transits include:
- Activity: Pixel Count
- Plan a Community Celebration
- Harris Branch Library Hosts Art and Artifacts
- Transits of Venus: Looking Forward, Looking Back
- All-Aboard the Transit of Venus
- Spanish Version of Sun Funnel: El Embudo Solar
- TROVE: Celebrating the TRansit Of VEnus
- Universe in the Classroom Features Transit of Venus
- Hubble Space Telescope to Target 2012 Transit of Venus
- QR Code for Transit of Venus Website
- Build a Sun Funnel for Group Viewing with a Telescope
- Transit of Venus Brochure