Saturday, June 2, 2012
Astronomy in the News again!
The cosmos must have known that my Science Camp theme was about Space, because it is sure lining up some great events for all of us to witness this summer. The Herrett Center staff at CSI does a great job presenting programs to help all of us take advantage of these celestial events, so I will just copy and paste their information. Enjoy the show!
The Herrett Center for Arts and Science is preparing for two interesting and unrelated sky events that will occur within 36 hours of each other in early June. That doesn’t even count the spectacular solar eclipse on May 20 that brought hundreds of visitors to the Centennial Observatory.
A partial lunar eclipse will occur from 2:48 to 6:13 a.m. Monday, June 4. Only 32-percent of the full moon will be in the Earth’s shadow that morning at the peak of the eclipse, but the Herrett Center’s Centennial Observatory will be open if the sky is clear to provide free viewing.
Then, a very rare event will occur the afternoon and evening of Tuesday, June 5. It’s something that hasn’t been seen from this part of the world since 1882 and won’t be seen again until 2117. The orbital path of the planet Venus will take it directly across the Sun. It’s called a transit of Venus and astronomers say it’s one of the rarest of the predictable astronomical events.
Observatory manager Chris Anderson says the transit will begin at 4:06 p.m. and will be over at 9:12 that evening as the sun sets. The Herrett Center expects to have plenty of disposable solar filtered eyeglasses for sale to allow people to watch the rare phenomenon. The observatory will also be open with specially-equipped telescopes that will allow visitors to look at the sun while Venus passes across its face, free of charge.
The Faulkner Planetarium is currently showing ‘When Venus Transits the Sun,’ which explains the significance of the Venus transit, how it can be safely observed, what makes it so rare, and what scientists can learn from it even with today’s wealth of astronomical knowledge. Rick Greenawald, Faulkner Planetarium manager, said the June 5 event will be only the seventh time that such a transit has been observed. It wasn’t until the 1769 transit that astronomers were able to accurately gauge the distance between Earth and the Sun.