June 4, 2004
04-84

Charles Harmon Director of University Relations, Antonio D. Adams Student Assistant

VSU Astronomers to View Transit of Venus

On the morning of June 8, Valdosta State University's astronomers will set up their telescopes at 6 a.m. at Valdosta Middle School to view the transit of planet Venus. The community is invited to attend.

Dr. Leake, professor of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences, stated that approximately every 1.6 years, Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun, but rarely passes directly between the two. The last transit of Venus occurred in 1882 and it is calculated that the next will occur in the year of 2012, followed by year 2117. Historically, these events aided astronomers in gauging the distance to the sun and thereby determining the scale of our solar system.

If the weather permits, VSU astronomers will set up telescopes on the west side of the walking track at Valdosta Middle School to view the transit. When this event happens, observers will see Venus as a tiny black dot moving slowly across the face of the Sun. Unfortunately, viewers from Valdosta, because of the geographical location, will only be able to witness the final stages of this event. At Sunrise on June 8 at 6:29 a.m., Venus will have transited most of the Sun's disk and will appear close to its western edge. At 7:26 a.m., the transit will be complete. For the remainder of the year, Venus will appear as a brilliant morning star in the predawn sky.

Dr. Leake stated that it is very important not to look directly into the sun but to join the viewers at the middle school and use the provided telescopes. Viewers who would like to observe the transit from other places should visit http://www.transitofvenus.org/safety.htm for proper viewing precautions and instructions. The event can also be viewed live over the internet at http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/sunearthday/2004/vt_observe_2004.htm and similar sites. In the url listed, there are underscores between vt and observe and 2004.

For more information, contact the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences at (229) 333-5752.