The New Mexico Museum of Space History invites the public to the grounds of the museum to safely view the Transit of Venus on Tuesday June 5. This event is free and open to the public beginning at 4:00 pm in the west end of the upper parking lot. This very rare event will not happen again until December 2117, making it a definite “once in a lifetime” opportunity. Retired museum registrar, current volunteer and resident astronomer Mike Smith will be on hand with a solar device for group viewing.
This transit occurs when Venus crosses the path of the sun, making it very important for viewers to wear special solar glasses or other protection to view the event.
“Do not look at the Sun without the appropriate protection. If you look directly at the Sun, permanent eye damage or blindness could happen and you wouldn’t even know it until it’s too late,” said museum Education Director Dave Dooling. A limited number of safe solar glasses will be available at the museum for the public to use; regular sunglasses do not work for this type of viewing. Another option is to use a dark rectangular arc-welder’s glass (#13 or #14).
In addition to the safe solar glasses that will be available to the public, a limited number of posters and bookmarks will also be given out. All are on a first come, first served basis. The glasses and other materials are compliments of NASA. For more information about the transit, visit sunearthday.nasa.gov.
According to the website SkyandTelescope.com, the first known observation of Venus crossing the Sun was on December 4, 1639. A young English astronomer named Jeremiah Horrocks had predicted the event after refining calculations by Johannes Kepler. “Horrocks completed his calculations in October 1639, barely a month before the transit,” explains historian Eli Maor. “He hurriedly alerted a few friends, urging them to observe the rare event with utmost care. He knew that the transit would provide astronomers with an opportunity to measure Venus’s apparent diameter, a task nearly impossible to achieve at any other time due to the planet’s intense glare.”
It will take about 6 ½ hours for Venus to cross the northern side of the sun, beginning at 4:05 pm MST. This celestial spectacle happens only four times every 243 years. The spacing between occurrences is uneven: first its 121 ½ years, then 8 years, followed by 105 ½ years, and then another 8 years.
The New Mexico Museum of Space History is a division of the NM Department of Cultural Affairs.
For more information contact Cathy Harper at (575) 437-2840 ext. 41153 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org