JINA Transit of Venus Handout

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JINA Transit of Venus Handout

  1. 1. What is it?A rare alignment of the sun, Venus, and Earth, which allows us to see Venusas a small dot slowly moving across the face of the sun. First viewed in1639 by a 21 year old amateur astronomer, it last occurred in 2004, andwont occur again until 2117. The alignment occurs in a cycle of 105-8-122-8 years. Why was it important historically?In the 18th century, prompted by Edmond Halley, nations sent out globalexpeditions to measure the time of the transit from various locations.From these measurements (to the nearest second) the distance betweenthe Earth and the Sun could be calculated. Why is it important now?The transit of Venus provides us with a different way of searching forexoplanets. As Venus travels across the face of the sun, the brightness ofthe sun decreases slightly. The Kepler Spacecraft is currently watching150,000 stars for regular drops in their brightness. Such a drop whichwould suggest that a planet is orbiting that star. How do you see it?There are many events planned before and during the transit. Seetinyurl.com/ToVevents for a list of local events. Coloring Contest?Email/text images of colored stained glass windows toschool61way+ff@photos.flickr.comCheck results of contest attinyurl.com/ToVcontest on Feb 18th. Dont miss the last transit of Venus in our lifetime!

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