Monday, June 4, 2012

Free Astronomical Phenomenon!

I don't think I've ever mentioned before, but BF is currently working on a Ph.D in Astrophysics.  That's right, I'm in love with a scientist, which is strange for me because I always dated 'creative types' before. But no matter, because I am dating a scientist, I know a hell of a lot about a super awesome even which is happening June 5-6 called The Transit of Venus.

Transits of Venus occur when the planet Venus actually passes in front of the the sun, making the whole planet look not like a blue dot, but like an orange ball.  These are particularly cool because they are the rarest astronomical event, occurring in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years.  The next Transit of Venus will be December 2117.
Venus--transiting in 2004.
What is also cool about this, as BF told me, is during the last major transit of Venus (not the 2004 one), scientists from all over the world tried to observe the phenomenon and take measurements, which can be used to determine the size of Venus and its distance from the Earth.  This was such a major event in my neighborhood in Providence that there are actually two streets named after it: Transit St. and Planet St.

Pretty much the whole world can see it--though it's supposed to be overcast here in Providence--damnit.  Since I've been regretting missing Halley's Comet when I was in 1st grade, I'm going to be front and center for this one.  Here's how to properly enjoy your Transit of Venus experience:
  • Check with your local observatory as they certainly will have an opportunity for you to view it.
  • Go to to find out what time you can witness the transit where you live, or, if it's cloudy, to watch streaming video
  • Do not burn out your eyeballs by staring directly into the sun!  Eclipse viewers are cheap and should be available at any kind of science store/museum (BF tells me).  If you cannot secure eclipse viewers before the event, you can use a welder's mask (surely you have one of those), telescope or any of the other materials listed on this page.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime event, so get out there and enjoy the majesty and wonder of the universe.

1 comment:

  1. We'll be driving up north during this and already have our eclipse glasses ready to go! I got them from the planetarium last week. :D