Transit of Venus viewing at the Museum

06/05/2012  5:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Kalamazoo Valley Museum

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum’s planetarium is hosting a free Transit of Venus viewing event on June 5 when the planet Venus will transit or cross in front of the Sun as seen from Earth.

Transits of Venus are rare events occurring in pairs separated by eight years. The last transit of Venus occurred on June 8, 2004, and the next transit will not occur until December 11, 2117.

The viewing event begins at 5 p.m. with a free screening of the planetarium show, “Crossing the Sun.” The film discusses the history of transits of Venus, a description of the rare occurrence, and instructions for safely viewing the sun during the June 5 transit.

Museum visitors will move outside at 6 p.m. to view the transit. Safe solar viewing glasses will be provided and several telescopes will be set up to show a magnified view of the ingress of Venus into the disk of the Sun. In the event of overcast skies, the program will continue in the Stryker Theater     with NASA’s Sun-Earth Day webcast of the transit.

At 6:09 p.m., Venus will begin entering the disk of the sun. Sky viewers will notice a faint ring of light around the edge of Venus, a backlit atmosphere, an apparent distortion of the planet’s shape, and the “Black Drop” effect.

At 6:28 p.m., Venus will be entirely within the disk of the sun. Viewers will notice Venus passing near sunspots and will be able to compare the apparent size of Venus with the sun. As the transit continues, viewers will be invited to make simple sundials and to simulate a measuring parallax to determine the distance of an object.

The museum’s transit viewing event ends at 7:30 p.m., but the transit will continue through sunset at 9:13 p.m. Viewers who continue to watch the transit on their own are advised to use solar viewing glasses.

“At the last transit, dozens of observers came to the Museum at sunrise to see the planet finish its encounter with the sun,” said Kalamazoo Valley Museum planetarium coordinator Eric Schreur. “They enjoyed a clear view of the event provided by our telescopes. We will be setting the telescopes up again so our guests may watch the planet Venus encountering the sun for the last transit in our lifetimes.”

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is operated by Kalamazoo Valley Community College and is governed by its Board of Trustees.