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June 5: 'Transit of Venus'
General public invited to view rare event at 5 p.m. Tuesday on campus.
Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release [5-17-12]
A rare transit of the planet Venus will occur just after 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, 2012, when Venus will be observed to pass across the disk of the sun. Such events are quite rare, with the next Venus transit occurring in 2117 – over a century in the future.
Observers in Minnesota will be able to view the first half of the transit, with the sun setting while Venus is about halfway across its disk, according to James Pierce, emeritus professor of astronomy at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
A transit is difficult to observe because it involves seeing the small black disk of Venus against the sun’s bright surface. Viewing the event requires a telescope to magnify the planet so that it can be seen, and also a safe method for observing the sun. One may either project the sun’s image onto a screen or use a telescope with a good solar filter.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Great care must be taken in observing the transit, as looking directly at the sun can cause serious damage to the eyes.
The public is invited to safely observe the transit on the campus of Minnesota State Mankato, where astronomers will operate several solar telescopes on the Trafton plaza. The transit will begin just after 5 p.m. on June 5; viewing will continue as long as the sun is visible above the horizon. Clouds or rain may shorten or cancel the planned observations.
Parking will be available along Maywood Avenue and in Lot 16, north of the Performing Arts Center. A short walk through the Wissink/Nelson arch will bring visitors to the Trafton observing site on the second floor level, just outside C124.
Additional information about Venus transits may be found at http://www.lunarplanner.com/HCpages/Venus.html.
For more information, contact James Pierce, emeritus professor of astronomy at Minnesota State Mankato, at 507-388-5334.
Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,649 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, which comprises 32 state institutions.