Watch the 2012 Transit of Venus Live!

Transit of Venus by NASA's TRACE spacecraft Image credit: NASA/LMSAL
Transit of Venus in 2004 by NASA's TRACE spacecraft. Image credit: NASA/LMSAL


Venus will make a rare transit across the face of the Sun on June 5/6, 2012 and for this historic event, Universe Today will be coordinating unprecedented live coverage. Starting at 20:00 UTC (2:00 p.m. PDT, 5 pm EDT) on Tuesday, June 5, a live 8-hour webcast will provide views from around the world using multiple telescopes along with commentary from astronomers, space scientists and other special guests.

Viewers will also have the chance to interact and ask questions about this uncommon event to learn more about its significance in aiding our understanding of the Solar System.

Universe Today’s Fraser Cain will be teaming up with astronomers Dr. Pamela Gay, Dr. Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer) and many more special celebrity guests. During this 8-hour marathon, they will provide information on how you can safely observe this event for yourself, as well as sharing telescope views from around the world (New Zealand, Canada, California, Nevada, Arizona, North Carolina, and more). These experts will be discussing why these transits are so rare, how they’ve been used to explore the Solar System, and what astronomers can learn from this event.

The transit will be broadcast as a live Google+ Hangout on Air, and on YouTube live. It will also be embeddable on any website that wants to share live coverage of the transit.

We’ll also be showcasing photographs and other coverage from the public, astronomers and even space telescopes.

To participate, share your views or ask questions, go to the coordinating page on Universe Today,

You can also view it on the Virtual Star party Google+ page, or on Universe Today’s YouTube live feed.

You can also follow the action via Universe Today on Twitter @universetoday and use the hashtag #venushangout

A transit like this occurs when Venus passes directly between Earth and the Sun. Viewers will see Venus as a small dot gliding slowly across a portion of the Sun. Historically, viewed by Captain James Cook and other famous astronomers from days gone by, this rare alignment is how we originally measured the size of our solar system.

There have been 53 transits since 2000 B.C. but only six transits of Venus have been observed since the invention of the telescope more than 400 years ago. There were no transits of Venus from 1882 to 2004, and the next one won’t take place until 2117. The last time the event occurred was on June 8, 2004, and was viewed by millions worldwide. This year, observers on six continents and a small portion of Antarctica will be in position to see at least part of it.

But no matter where you live or what sky conditions are in your area, you can watch live with this special coverage!

Watch Our Live Interview with Climate Scientist Michael Mann

If you missed it live, here’s the replay of our live interview this morning with climate researcher Michael Mann. We discussed his new book, “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines,” his experiences — good and bad — of being one of the leading paleoclimatologists and dealing with deniers of climate change, as well as talking about the science being done by Mann and his colleagues.

Thanks again to Michael Mann for taking the time to join us for the latest in our series of live interviews via Google+ Hangouts On Air.

Upcoming: Live Interview with Climate Scientist Michael Mann

Michael Mann, Professor Director, Earth System Science Center, Pennsylvania State University. Credit: PSU


Join us on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 14:00 UTC for another in our series of live interviews. This week we’ll be talking with climate scientist Michael Mann, who has written a new book, “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines.”

Please note the different time than our usual interviews/Hangouts On Air: our interview with Mann will be at 14:00 UTC, 10 am EDT, 7 am PDT. Watch on CosmoQuest’s Hangout page, or on Fraser’s Google + page. We’ll be taking questions for Dr. Mann in the ‘chat’ areas on the Hangout.

If you can’t watch it live, we’ll post the video reply later in the day on Friday.

Next Live Interview: The Latest Exoplanet News from Kepler

Artist's conception of "Super-Earth" exoplanet Kepler-22b, which is about 2.4 times larger than Earth. Credit: NASA.

Coming up next in our series of live interviews with astronomers and scientists is a discussion of the latest news from the Kepler mission. Joining us will be Darin Ragozzine, a postdoctoral researcher with the Kepler mission, at the Institute for Theory and Computation at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory who studies transiting exoplanets, as well as the theory and dynamics of Kuiper belt objects.

The live interview will be a Hangout on Air, and be on Friday, March 2 at 18:00 UTC, 1 pm EST, 10 am PST. To watch the Hangout on Air, circle Fraser on Google+ and watch his feed for the link to the Hangout. There you can join in on the conversation and post your questions for us.

If you aren’t on Google+, you can also watch it live on the CosmoQuest Hangouts page, where there is also a place to post comments and questions. If you can’t watch live, we’ll post a recording of the Hangout later on UT.

Join UT’s First Live Interview with Rover Driver Scott Maxwell

Rover Driver Scott Maxwell with a model of MER. Photo courtesy Scott Maxwell


How often have you wanted to be a fly on the wall during media interviews of top scientists and engineers? Here’s your chance! On Friday, February 10, we’ll be having our first live interview via a Google+ Hangout On Air. We’ve done the weekly Space Hangout for several weeks now and Fraser has done multiple virtual star parties via a Hangout On Air. Now we’ll start the first of what we hope are many live interviews that we’ll share with our readers and fans. We’re excited that Mars rover driver Scott Maxwell, will be joining us, and he will provide insight on the plans for the Opportunity rover’s upcoming winter, a look back at the 8 years and counting for the rovers, a look ahead to the future, and more.

The Hangout On Air will start at 18:00 UTC (1 pm EST,12 noon CST, 10 am PST) or you can check here at the fancy-schmancy time and date announcement Scott put together that shows the time in almost every time zone possible.

How do you find the Hangout? The best way is to join Google+ and “circle” Fraser and the Hangout On Air will show up in his timeline. You can also circle Nancy, who will also provide a link, but within Fraser’s timeline there will also be the opportunity for you to post questions that we can ask Scott during the live interview.

If you can’t watch live, the Hangout will be recorded and we’ll post it later on Friday on Universe Today.

We hope you’ll join us!