Help Astronomers Collect Venus Transit Data!

[/caption]During June 5th/6th 2012, Venus will be transiting the Sun, where it will make a rare appearance as a small dot moving across the face of the Sun. Astronomers around the world are planning observations, and one team is traveling to Easter Island in an attempt to reproduce the measurements first made/proposed by Edmund Halley in the late 1600’s, getting precise data of first contact between Venus and the Sun. They are working with students from around the world and are looking for help to connect with more students to participate in the event.

The team is asking for assistance from astronomy clubs and organizations, especially those who work with school children. Since the team will be observing on Easter Island, their view of the transit will be limited (it begins two hours before sunset). Since the team will only be measuring the time of ingress and not egress, the team is reaching out to additional observers to help collect data. So far, the team has colleagues in Hawaii, New York, Australia, Iran, and Holland who will be assisting with their efforts.

Keep reading to learn how your club (or school group) can help collect transit data!

Dr. Jacqueline Faherty states, “As part of the celebration, we are networking multiple school groups around the world that are also viewing the transit so we can make a measurement of the distance to the Sun, combining timing measurements of first and last contact from various points on the Earth.” Faherty also adds, “This is not about making an accurate measurement but rather an attempt to inspire young students, our next generation of scientists, when they see that astronomical phenomena (while rare) can be used to make real and extremely useful measurements while at the same time connecting a network of students from different countries, cultures, political histories, etc.”

To participate you only need do the following:

  • At the time of the transit have a calibrated clock (GPS clock preferred but not necessary)
  • From your location we need the time of ingress or egress interior (exterior as well if you can do it). This is the time that Venus has passed into the interior of the Sun. See this webpage for an estimated time of when you can expect the events to occur for your location:
  • As a secondary measurement of the transit we are also going to try to match images taken of the transit from different positions on Earth. If you will be photographing the event please try to capture an image exactly (or close to exactly) on the 10’s of each hour. We will coordinate the rest.
  • Be sure to take a photograph of you and your students watching/measuring/enjoying the transit
  • Email Dr. Faherty ([email protected]) saying that you are interested in participating in our group so we can add you to our global network and map:
  • Once again the team is especially interested in school groups that will be viewing the transit. The team hopes to inspire the next generation of scientists, by demonstrating how astronomical phenomenon can be used for scientific purposes. The team will feature photos from participating groups and the results of their measurements in a blog series hosted by the American Museum of Natural History.

    For more information on the team, visit their website at:

    If you’d like to see the math behind the measurements, visit David Rodriguez’s blog:

    Visibility information for the transit of Venus can be found at:

    Source: Dr. Catherine Kaleida, Dr. Jacqueline Faherty, and the 2012 Transit of Venus Easter Island Public Outreach Team

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