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Students can view rare Venus transit

Published: Thursday, May 31, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 23:07

Every 105 years the Venus transit occurs, making it one of the rarest astronomical marvels this century.

On Tuesday, Texas A&M University’s Physics and Astronomy Department will have a viewing of the event.

The transit of Venus happens when Venus
crosses between Earth and the sun, appearing as a dot gliding across the sun’s surface. This event is extremely rare. Since the invention of the telescope in the early 17th century, the transit has occurred seven times.

These transits occur in pairs eight years apart. The past one occurred in 2004. After Tuesday night, the next transit will be in 2117.

Texas A&M astronomer Jennifer Marshall said in a press release this astronomical event has major historical implications. From 1761, scientists have used the Venus transit as a tool for measuring the size of the Solar System.

Students who want to view the event can attend the Physics Department viewing at Rudder Fountain Plaza. Multiple telescopes will be set up with reading material for viewers to look through and read while they observe this astronomical milestone.

Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy Kevin Krisciunas said Venus will be large enough to see without magnification as long as viewers have properly tinted eyewear. No magnification is necessary to see Venus cross the sun, but with the department’s solar-lensed telescopes, the spectacle can be seen more clearly.

Chen Li, petroleum engineering graduate student, said students are showing interest in viewing the event.

“It’s amazing. A great chance to see this phenomenon more clearly,” Li said.


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