Author Topic: Get Ready for the Transit of Venus  (Read 1188 times)

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Offline PPI Brian

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Mark your calendars.  ;D

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/ehHY9fTrb7Q" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/ehHY9fTrb7Q</a>
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Offline PPI Karl

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I received this e-mail today sent out by a colleague at Grossmont College.  If anyone is interested, let me know.



MESSAGE FROM ROSS COHEN

On Tuesday, June 5,  from 3:06 P.M. to sunset, the astronomy department will have a telescope or telescopes with special filters set up on the roof of building 34 to observe the transit of Venus.  A transit of Venus is a fairly rare event and occurs when Venus crosses in front of the Sun, as seen from the Earth.  The next transit of Venus will not occur for more than 100 years.

CAUTION: NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN, EITHER WITH A TELESCOPE OR WITH THE UNAIDED EYE!

After the formulation of Newton's theory of gravity, it became possible to determine to high precision the distances of the objects in the solar system relative to the size of the orbit of the Earth.  However, the actual distances in miles or km were not well known.  By observing the transit of Venus from different locations on Earth, it is possible to use trigonometry to determine the absolute scale of the solar system.  Astronomers in the 18th and 19th centuries went to great lengths to observe transits of Venus and did succeed in improving the determination of distances in the solar system.  Distances in the solar system are known to much higher precision today, also using observations of Venus.  Today we don't use transits, but instead directly measure the distance to Venus using large radio telescopes operating as radars. 

Why observe transits today?  Fun; this is probably your only chance (assuming its clear)!  However, there is still a scientific utility to observing transits.  The most efficient way of finding planets around other stars is by looking for the small dips in light as the planets transit in front of their stars (which appear only as points of light, rather than disks).  Some astronomers will observe the transit of Venus to try to better interpret their observations of planets around distant stars.  But, for us, it's just fun.

If you want to see a picture of the most recent transit of Venus, which was not visible from California, go here.  http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap111016.html <http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap111016.html>

For more information, contact Ross Cohen at ross.cohen@gcccd.edu <mailto:ross.cohen@gcccd.edu>
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Offline PPI Jason

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I'd love to take my boys to this. Would that be possible?
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Offline PPI Karl

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The letter was sent out to Grossmont faculty and staff, but I'll drop them a note in the meantime, to ask if family and friends can attend I don't imagine they'd be anything but delighted if you came with your boys.  If I don't hear back from them, just go anyway and tell them you're expecting to meet me there.  Let 'em know that you and I presented at the Science Festival a few years back.   I'm sure they won't give you any problem--if it's a concern at all, that is.
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Offline PPI Tracy

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Wish I could go.  I'll be at that four letter word:  "Work"

I could always look out the window but I just realized that I left my bionic eyes at home.    (damn...I'm really tryin' here, but I'm just not funny in the morning)   :-\

Offline PPI Karl

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Let's hope the skies comply. 

Jason, Ross says it's fine to bring the kids.  He's just cautioning against very very young children.  (Third grade is the lower limit.)  So, everything's good!
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Offline PPI Jason

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Are you going to be there?
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Offline PPI Karl

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I'm planning to get there a little after 4:00 p.m.

The telescopes will be set up atop Building 34, the Health and Sciences Complex.  Here's a link to a campus map, if you're not already familiar with the location:

« Last Edit: June 05, 2012, 06:06:36 PM by PPI Karl »
If you want to end your misery, start enjoying it, because there's nothing the universe begrudges more than our enjoyment.

Offline PPI Karl

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I'm planning to get there a little after 4:00 p.m.

The telescopes will be set up atop Building 34, the Health and Sciences Complex.  Here's a link to a campus map, if you're not already familiar with the location:


Hi, Jason:

It's a little before 5:00 p.m., and I've just walked back to my office from the Astronomy Dept. rooftop "experience" of the Venus Transit.  It doesn't look like our paths will cross on this one, but don't let that dissuade you from going anyway.  It's an extremely nice location with four fixed telescopes, and people have been coming and going the whole time I was there--including parents and their kids.  Be sure to walk the catwalk to the other side of the roof:  spectacular views!  Eager and friendly astronomy faculty are standing by.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2012, 09:03:40 PM by PPI Karl »
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Offline PPI Tim

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It was nice from patio. But the pictures that NASA posted were awesome.
Chauk another one to the little telescope that could. :D
Sounds interesting...Go on.

Offline PPI Jason

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Hi Karl,

Sorry I couldn't make it. I really wanted to take the boys, but Pam was tired of being left out and asked me and the boys to stay home.

But we did spend quite a bit of time watching the transit from the backyard.

I even caught some video. It was pretty difficult (It's very difficult to see the video screen outside due to all the glare and the fact that I'm holding up an eclipse viewer in front of the camera lense while trying to hold the camera steady. Here is a snippet of what I caught. You can even see a few sunspots in the background.

http://www.pacificparanormal.com/forums/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=3899.0;attach=2502
« Last Edit: June 06, 2012, 12:03:29 AM by PPI Jason »
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Offline PPI Tracy

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Nice, Jason! 

I saw your post on Facebook too.  (i don't know if you meant to do this, but when you posted the update, it also posted an address......i think your home address)

Offline PPI Karl

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Sorry I missed you and the boys, Jason.  I'll have to go check out your video.  It's amazing how conveniently now people are getting video and images.  I watched someone yesterday hold up his iPhone to the eyepiece of one of the telescopes and capture an AMAZING still shot of the Venus transit, as if you were looking through the eyepiece itself.  What'll they think of next? (And, with that, I officially sound like my father.)
If you want to end your misery, start enjoying it, because there's nothing the universe begrudges more than our enjoyment.