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?
See A Community Celebrates for a summary of the 2012 transit of Venus experience in Michiana.Click for brochure of events.
The Michiana community will be the Midwest hub for attractions that celebrate the 2012 transit of Venus, a rare celestial phenomenon in which Venus passes directly in front of the sun. The transit of Venus has a storied past and an engaging future, with the June 5, 2012, event being the last one in our lifetimes. We invite you to join the festivities, either as a featured destination or as a visitor, as we eagerly embrace this solar spectacle.
- Big Day Tour! Exclusive motor coach tour all the regional highlights on a bus tour with expert commentary on June 5. (Space limited.)
- Telescopes set up for safe public observing throughout the region on June 5, as was done for the transit of Venus in Mishawaka, IN, in 2004:
- PHM Digital Video Theater (former Planetarium) in Mishawaka, IN (map)
- Jordan Hall of Science on the campus of University of Notre Dame (map)
- LaSalle Intermediate Academy in South Bend, IN (map)
- New Carlisle Public Library, New Carlisle, IN (map)
- Warren Dunes State Park, Sawyer, MI (map)
- Andrews University on top of Price Hall (map)
- Transit of Venus art on display
- Transit of Venus in Pastel at Harris Branch Library, Granger, IN, May 1-June 9
- TROVE Art Exhibit at the Livery in Benton Harbor, MI, May 6-June 30
- PHM Transit of Venus Art Contest at Penn High School, Mishawaka, IN, May 3-June 30
- Historical images to be exhibited at select branches of MutualBank
- ToV beer poster contest at the Livery
- Historical artifacts on display at Harris Branch Library and Hesburgh Library, from the US Naval Observatory and private collections
- Digital theater programs
- Telescope workshops to build safe solar viewing devices and to prepare telescopes with solar filters
- Transit of Venus products
- Lesson plans and classroom activities for all ages
- Participation in re-creation of international science experiment through Transit of Venus Phone App
- Commemoration of local observations of the 1882 transit of Venus
- Live broadcasts of transit of Venus from across the globe with others immersed in the transit of Venus, including
- Local liaison Chuck Rupley from Hawaii
- NASA's Sun-Earth Day webcast from Hawaii on June 5
- Telescope observing of the partial solar eclipse at sunset over Lake Michigan on May 20
- Buchanan Art Center will run Transit of Venus video all day June 5, offer solar shades, and guide kids in creating a "Black Drop" sticker. 10 AM-6 PM.
- TROVE Adventure, a regional treasure hunt to earn protective solar shades, May 1-May 31
- Thursday lecture series at PHM Digital Video Theater, Mishawaka, IN
- You Can Learn a Lot From a Dot by Steven Williams of NASA, May 17
- Experience the Transit of Venus by Chuck Bueter of Transitofvenus.org, May 24
- Life in the Universe: From Viking to Kepler by Phil Sakimoto of Notre Dame, May 31
- AstroFest at Union Station on April 28, 2012, a free family-oriented event
- Performance of John Philip Sousa's Transit of Venus March on March 8 by Penn Symphonic Winds (details)
- Transit of Venus Stained Glass Window Contest (online), from JINA/NDeRC at University of Notre Dame; entry deadline: Feb. 18.
Alfred Vidal-Madjar, CNRS, Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, submitted the proposal entitled Venus observed as an extrasolar planet.
While astronomers can discern the atmosphere of big planets 150 light years away, they seek to detect the atmospheres of smaller earth-size planets as well. To mimic looking at a small exoplanet, the Hubble Space Telescope will measure small changes in light reflected off the moon as Venus diminishes the sunlight slightly when the inner planet passes between the sun and earth on June 5-6, 2012.
"We don't know if it will work, but it's worth a shot," Mountain said. "If it does work, we'll get an idea of what earth-size would look like...It will guide us in the future if we ever see dip like it; we're seeing a very small planet...It's quite a risky project, but the payoff would be quite remarkable, for we'd actually be able to measure the atmosphere of Venus using the Hubble Space Telescope."
Because the barcode-reading software employs error correction, I can overlay a semi-transparent image and still get accurate barcode reader results. The image below is from SOHO spacecraft with a silhouette of Venus and black drop added manually, though admittedly in the 2004 orientation for now.
- Build a Sun Funnel for Group Viewing with a Telescope
- Transit of Venus Brochure
- Poster: Countdown to the Transit of Venus
- Transit of Venus Project Launches
- Appeal to Be Bold
- Six Ways to See the Transit of Venus
- Viewing the Transit & Eye Safety
- Promo for NASA EDGE Coverage in 2012
- Between Captain Cook and Mauna Kea: The British 1874 Transit of Venus Expedition to Hawaii
- Seeking Goddess for Instant Astronomical Gratification
- Solar Dynamics Observatory to Witness the 2012 Transit of Venus
- Crowd Gathers to Witness the 2004 Transit of Venus