Transit of Venus across the Disk of the Sun

If it is clear we will observe it from around 5PM until sunset from the roof of  the Parking Garage at Fenton and King Street on Tuesday, 5 June 2012.  If  it is hopelessly cloudy and predicted to continue that way well past the event then we will have a show in the planetarium watching web cams of this event.   The real thing is better! We will have, at a minimum, telescopes with solar filters (10 inch (2540mm) Meade LX200-GPS-SMT, and a  3 1/2  inch (88.9mm) Questar ), so you will not go blind, and a sun-spotter telescope that will project the sun on a white piece of paper to see sunspots an of course Venus.   WE WILL not pass out or sell eclipse glasses, we gave away 500 of them free from NASA 8 years ago, THEY DO NOT ALLOW YOU TO SEE VENUS.  They are safe, but you can not see sunspots or Venus transiting the sun.  The sun a 1/2 degree across and Venus is around 1/32 in angle, or less than one arc minute.  YOU CAN NOT SEE VENUS on the DISK OF THE SUN WITHOUT MAGNIFICATION.  Not only do I know this theoretically now, but we tried it 8 years ago and it did not work.  The transit itself will start around 6:09PM, sunspots before that and the significance of what we are about to see will be shared.
The reason why transits of Venus across the disk of the sun are important, aside from the spectacle and their rarity, is that is how we know that we are 8.3 light minutes (149 million kilometers, 93 million miles) away from the sun.  By measuring the distance on the earth between two observers and the small angular difference between the two observers transit of  Venus; we can scale up the earth distance to give us the earth to Venus distance and from that the earth to the sun distance of 1 AU (Astronomical Unit).  All other distances to planets, stars, and galaxies are based upon this first close distance in our Solar System the AU.  Before the AU was determined in terms of some known value on the earth we could not say how far the planets or stars or galaxies were away.   All distances off of the earth are based upon our determination of the AU,  and this is only our 7th  opportunity to use this method with the transit of Venus across the disk of the Sun (1639, 1761, 1769, 1874 ,1882, and 2004).  Come join us for this scientifically historical event.   You can not afford to wait until December 2117.  NASA site to see it on your computer.

Exciting Transit of Venus videos.

We had good luck on June 8, 2004 in the morning when we saw this event with around 500 people on the roof of the parking garage.
For transit visibility world wide go to this image.
Lou Mayo 2004 Transit of Venus PowerPoint.
Harold Williams 2012 Transit of Venus PowerPoint.
Fox News 5 interview of Dr. Williams a few minutes before the transit of venus by Sue Palka.

Montgomery College's Planetarium home page

Last updated Wednesday, 8:52PM  6/27/2012 by Dr. Harold Williams