Your last chance to watch Venus cross the face of the sun is coming up quickly!
This rare event, known as a Transit of Venus, will take place June 5 for North American observers. Over a seven-hour span, Earth’s sister planet will trek across the solar disk and from our perspective will appear as a slow-moving small black dot.
Venus transits occur in pairs that are eight years apart, but these dual events take place less than once per century. The last one happened in 2004, and the next won’t come until 2117.
Hastings Museum will hold a safe viewing session of this amazing and rare event! Observing will begin at 5 p.m. in front of the Museum during our Member Celebration. You can look safely through the Museum’s telescope with a white light filter. You’ll be able to see for yourself how large the Sun is compared to Venus, which is only slightly smaller than Earth.
The event is free and will last until the Sun is too low to see before Sunset.
These rare events are historically important.
Astronomer and mathematician Edmund Halley, of Halley’s Comet fame, was the first person to suggest that by observing the transit of Venus across the Sun’s face, scientists could determine the size of the Solar System and the distance from the Sun to the Earth. This was the first international scientific expedition as scientists fanned out around the world to get as many readings as possible. After some failed attempts due to inaccuracies with times of the internal contacts, the Earth-Sun distance was accurately measured at 93 million miles.
In celebration of this rare event, the Museum’s Planetarium is also showing a short full dome informational video before all shows through June 5.
The video lasts about 5 minutes and explains why this event happens, how to see it safely and the importance of these rare transits, historically.