Today is transit day…

Hello friends, don’t forget that this evening starting around 6pm EST you’ll be able to see Venus transiting the disk of the Sun, a phenomenon that won’t occur again until 2117!!

Remember, DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY WITHOUT PROPER PROTECTION! For safe tips on how to view the transit, click here. Or to be super safe (and mobile) you can check out NASA’s live webcast of the transit from the Keck Observatories at Mauna Kea, Hawaii. That broadcast will feature UNH alumnus and thesuntoday.org creator Dr. C. Alex Young of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

For more information about the transit, you can visit NASA’s official transit webpage, thesuntoday.org, or transitofvenus.org.

Also, to help you get super pumped about the transit, here are some fun tidbits.

Here’s a link to my friend and fellow grad student, Mark Zastrow from Boston University’s Department of Astronomy, detailing the amazing and harrowing tale of 18th century French astronomer Guillaume Le Gentil‘s trek to observe the pair of Venus transits in the 1760s: The Worst Observing Run Ever

And to prove that Venus is actually going to cross the disk of the Sun, here’s a video from NASA’s SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite. The video is of a series of coronagraph images. Coronagraphs image the corona, or atmosphere of the Sun, and associated flares and coronal mass ejections by blocking out the extremely bright disk of the sun. You’ll notice the big empty blue spot in the middle of the picture, that’s the blocked out part and that white ring indicates the actual outline of the Sun’s circumference. The Sun’s really bright, so you need to block out a lot more than just the disk. You’ll see some big blobs of particles and plasma coming off the Sun, that’s normal solar activity. And finally you’ll see that bright image approaching the Sun from the left, that’s Venus, reflecting the incredibly bright light from the Sun.

Hope you like all that. Enjoy the transit! And if you have any cool transit-viewing pics or experiences, feel free to share them in the comments!

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One Response to Today is transit day…

  1. Question and possible follow-up post:

    How much do you think this will contribute to the current research experts are performing toward the study of possible earth-like planets out there? I know they were heavily using a technique measuring how much of a star’s light is blocked out by a planet to judge its size and other factors. Will this in any way help that process?

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