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?
Burns writes, "In June of 2012, we traveled to South Bend, Indiana to document community organized events surrounding the Transit of Venus. Along the way we interviewed educators, amateur astronomers, bystanders, and an astrophysicist, who shared the meaning and significance of the Transit in 2012."
If you wish to submit larger contents in advance, please contact Chuck Bueter to confirm space is available. Consider the need to preserve all contents over 100 years when offering your artifacts for inclusion. For example, letters should be written on acid-free paper with permanent black marker. Have some fun with it and offer your personal perspective on the transit of Venus. What would excite you if you were to open a message from across time?
The keg itself is a stainless steel vessel donated by The Livery microbrewery in Benton Harbor, Michigan. In pulling the keg from storage, right, brewer Steve Berthel describes it as an "early-60's Hoff-Stevens keg, the old-school kind."
Harry Miller of The Apprentice Academy in South Bend, Indiana, modified the bottom so the Time Keg could accept contents that fit within a 6-inch diameter opening. Once the keg is filled with artifacts, a metal plate Miller made will be caulked and bolted over the large opening. Additionally, an aluminum plug fits into the side bung hole that would have been filled by a wooden plug in the keg's beer days. Miller also fashioned a small metal bar that bolts over the new plug to keep it in place over time.
An attached plaque will cite the year the keg is sealed and instructions to open it after 100 years. The Transit of Venus Time Keg will initially be stored and exhibited at the Penn-Harris-Madison (PHM) Digital Video Theater, which also houses an Air & Space Museum. Under the direction of Art Klinger, the PHM facility has been active in transit of Venus education and public outreach in northern Indiana for both the 2004 and 2012 celestial events.
An excerpt from the live Slooh broadcast during the transit of Venus shows the Transit of Venus Time Keg with some commentary by contributor Kate Rueff. Watch from 1:14:33 to about 1:22:00 at http://youtu.be/zcQgkqK2cEo.
Second, Horrocks lamented that he had to compete with sports. In Venus in Sole Visa he wrote, "I hope to be excused for not informing other of my friends of the expected phenomenon, but most of them care little for trifles of this kind, preferring rather their hawks and their hounds." As I have said in my stump speech in the past few months, we are still competing with those hawks and hounds. I sympathize with Horrocks and share his sentiment.
If we as a nation want to prosper through math and science, then we need to celebrate math and science in action. The 2012 transit of Venus is a celebration of our ability to understand our place in the cosmos. We say we want to have a nation of critical thinkers capable of making informed decisions. So let's take that first step of science and observe. Witness nothing less than the solar system in motion, and extrapolate the passing of a planet in front of our star to the distant points of light in our night sky.
As we on earth get ready to watch the 2012 transit of Venus, astronaut Don Pettit has been preparing to capture the experience from his perch on the International Space Station (ISS). With great zeal, Pettit has undertaken a personal mission to photograph the transit on his own time, apart from the official ISS timeline. Pettit's story is just one of the many that I wish I had time to convey, but I've run out of earthly rotations to do it full justice.
Even if I were given the time, I'd only find more items to overload my calendar. Consider a small sampling of recent others waiting to be told... Irvin Stanley was an assistant photographer to the Kerguelen Island and Patagonia expeditions of the US Naval Observatory who twice committed to the rigors and travails of shipboard travel, a huge tradition itself in the transit of Venus narrative. I wanted to write more about Stanley. I wish I'd had more time to promote the program celebrating the transit of Venus in Timor-Leste. I just saw this fabulous plate from observations in Guadalajara, Mexico, courtesy of Durruty Jesús de Alba Martínez. I would like to learn about the 1769 Transit of Venus Observatory in Lewes, Delaware. I wish I could have delivered a sample of beer to the Transit of Venus Real Ale Competition coordinated by David Henckel. These are just a handful of the stories told by and about people inspired by the transit of Venus.
We're on the cusp of the last transit of Venus in the 21st century, a celestial happenstance that could be that singular event in a young person's life that inspires them to look deeper into some natural wonder. I hope our efforts have produced fertile ground to nurture such notions. I'd like to wax poetic about the transit of Venus and its implications for us who are fortunate enough to experience it, but time and the planets march on.
If you are in northern Indiana, I invite you to join the TROVE celebration with me. I'll be at Bittersweet School in Mishawaka, IN, through first and second contacts before heading to Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer, Michigan. There I want to watch the sun set over Lake Michigan, reminiscent of the iconic Nitzschke image with sailing ships on the horizon, shown above. Afterward, we head to The Livery microbrewery in Benton Harbor, MI, to close out this subtle yet sublime spectacle. You can follow our celebration there at 11:00 p.m. EDT on the live Slooh broadcast. Just before midnight, the ISS soars nearly overhead.
It's time for this ship to set sail. Thanks to all who have been so supportive, a tome unto itself. See you on the other side.
Harris Branch, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library
51446 Elm Road, Granger IN 46530
May 1 to June 9, 2012
Reception 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 9
Library hours: Monday - Thursday, 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Friday, Saturday, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sundays - Closed
Members of the Northern Indiana Pastel Society invite guests and the public to their exhibit of space-themed art May 1 to June 9 at Harris Branch, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library, 51446 Elm Road, Granger IN 46530.
Ideas such as sun, moon, stars, planets, new worlds, or Venus will be featured. The show includes 25 works by 19 artists all working in soft pastel. Pastel is an art medium in the form of a stick, consisting of pure powdered pigment and a binder. The pigments used in pastels are the same as those used to produce all colored art media, including oil paints. The color effect of pastels is closer to the natural dry pigments than that of any other process.
The exhibit is inspired by the heavenly event, June 5, 2012, when the planet Venus passes between Earth and the sun. The art show is one of many events marking the Transit of Venus in South Bend and the surrounding community. Below are four pieces from the exhibit.
If your observing site's weather may be marginal, consider traveling to the TROVE celebration near the Michigan-Indiana border. Multiple attractions will insure a memorable 2012 Transit of Venus experience. Immerse yourself in art exhibits, historical displays, planetarium programs, webcasts, public lectures, and even a Transit of Venus specialty beer! At the fourth contact we will seal a Transit of Venus Time Keg, to be opened when the next transit of Venus pair approaches in 2117 and 2125.If it's cloudy, you can still experience the transit of Venus in real time. Complement your transit of Venus experience with views and commentary that are broadcast from around the world, including a live webcast from NASA EDGE or from SLOOH. For more featured destinations, see Where to Be, or find a Sun-Earth Day Event Location through the interactive NASA map.
article notes, "Mr. Severn's very complete and skilful arrangements were unfortunately defeated by cloudy weather occurring at the time of the transit. Our readers will probably find it easier to sympathise with his disappointment than to realise his feelings on seeing the labour and preparation of years thus rendered useless by circumstances far beyond his own control. Well might he exclaim, 'L'homme propose--Dieu dispose.'"
You can still get value out of the transit of Venus experience even if clouds disappoint,
- Black Drop Effect Bistro Coffee
- Exclusive Tour of Transit Highlights
- Eye Safety Warning
- TROVE Adventure
- Can I Use Welding Glass to View the Sun?
- Artifacts at Harris Branch Library in Granger, IN
- Pizza Transit
- Video: The Transit of Venus
- Sermon Suggested by the Transit of Venus
- You Can Learn a Lot From a Dot
- Order Bulk Solar Shades