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If you haven't been hearing the buzz about Venus passing between the Earth and the Sun on June 5 - or the Transit of Venus, here is a great opportunity to bring some real excitement into your classroom or community. One thing that makes this so exciting is its rarity. The last transit was in 2004, the one before that was in 1882, and the next one is 105.5 years from now - in December of 2117.
There are many exciting things being planned. The [url=http://sunearthday.nasa.gov/transitofvenus/]NASA Sun-Earth Day[/url] team provided really exciting activities and video in 2004, but they are blowing out the stops for this year's transit. There will be live coverage with special solar telescopes from Mauna Kea, Hawaii (where the big observatory is) for 6+ hours with scientists and historians also providing segments. All around the country science museums, planetaria, universities, amateur astronomers, and teachers will be doing activities and observing the transit. In addition to the NASA's Sun-Earth Day team, Chuck Bueter has developed his site, [url=http://www.transitofvenus.org/]Transit of Venus.org[/url], and will be organizing events in the Indiana-Michigan region. Also, Fred Espenak, Mr Eclipse, hosts the [url=http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/transit12.html]2012 Transit of Venus[/url] site. There is even a smart phone app developed this year.
If you are planning events the first thing is to look for safe viewing methods. Looking directly at the Sun will blind observers. All three sites have several different methods to protect viewers.
This event offers great opportunities (and activities provided by these sites) to help students understand the size scale of the solar system, the differences in orbits between Venus and Earth, math, and the history of science exploration.
If you are already planning to take advantage of this rare event and the resources being developed for education, please share in this Discussion Topic. If you would like to do something, this discussion could be a great place to ask questions and share information and ideas.
And for adult only celebrations, Chuck Bueter has convinced a brewer in Michigan to reissue a special Transit of Venus brew.
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This is an excellent teaching "moment", Don. Thank you for sharing all of the resources! I remember teaching about it in 2004; at the time I didn't realize it would happen a second time in MY lifetime. On the one NASA website you shared, I read this bit of info: "The transit or passage of a planet across the face of the Sun is a relatively rare occurrence. As seen from Earth, only transits of Mercury and Venus are possible. On average, there are 13 transits of Mercury each century. In contrast, transits of Venus occur in pairs with more than a century separating each pair."
I am going to look for my old NASA poster showing a photo of Venus passing in front of the Sun. Hopefully, many schools will still be in session on June 4th. I may go buy a new pair of binoculars just for this special event!
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Yes, I too remember watching the Transit of Venus in 2004 - amazing! Here is a link related to "Eye Safety." Read it carefully so you can enjoy the event safely.
Transit of Venus - Eye Safety.
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I viewed through a homemade 2 paper towel viewer the Venus transit in 2004. I may upgrade the eclipse viewers this year for this event which will be a bit after 6 pm EDT to sunset here on the East Coast. Thanks Don, Carolyn and Flavio for the information.
Thought I'd also mention another viewing this weekend which will attempt to make 3-D photographs in space !
April 18, 2012: This weekend, NASA scientists, amateur astronomers, and an astronaut on board the International Space Station will attempt the first-ever 3D photography of meteors from Earth and space.
"The annual Lyrid meteor shower peaks on April 21-22," says Bill Cooke, the head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "We’re going to try to photograph some of these 'shooting stars' simultaneously from ground stations, from a research balloon in the stratosphere, and from the space station."
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
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I am having a speaker come in to share about the Transit of Venus and do an activity with the students. I am , myself looking forward to having more information and also having the opportunity to observe another science educator work with my students next week.
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Andrea, getting a speaker is great. I hope you can observe it, too (safely, of course - see Flavio's post above for techniques). The 2004 transit was pretty exciting to me and a lot of kids I worked with. The live-feed on transit day brings a lot of excitement and virtual speakers, as well. Good luck.
Are there any other teachers planning to take advantage of this rare event? What are you planning? Has anyone gotten the local amateur astronomers involved?
Here are some of my plans so far for the Venus Transit. My daughter's school has requested I visit to talk with the children about the event. The visit is on May 31 (ideas on what to do while I'm there are welcomed - 5th grade class!) On June 5 I plan to visit the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore (if you leave in the Baltimore Metro area - I'll see you there). They will have telescopes with solar filters and facilitators to assist visitors and answer their questions. They also plan to show the NASA live feed from Hawaii. I am hoping some of my daughter's classmates and their families will join us too. Let's hope for good weather.
NASA has collected resources that may be of interest to teachers. They include videos, safe solar viewing, and audio podcasts that might be of interest. The NASA resources are at http://sunearthday.nasa.gov/transitofvenus/
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You can find if your area of the world will see the transit of Venus
Looks like you can set up a viewing event too !
You can find the exact time transit will start in your locale
If the weather isn't great for viewing the transit in your location,
NASA's going to have a live webcast from Hawaii:
Which I hope they archive so then we can show it to the students on other days as well.
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I have purchased a bunch of eclipse shades to send/give out as presents for this viewing.............
You might think about watching the annular solar eclipse this coming Sunday May 20th in Western US
Here is Science NASA News
On Sunday, May 20th, the Moon will pass in front of the Sun, producing an annular solar eclipse visible across the Pacific side of Earth from China to the United States.
FULL STORY: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2012/15may_sunday/
There are so many outstanding resources on this thread. I just reviewed an article in this month's Science Scope journal about the transit of Venus in case anyone is interested. It is called "Scope on the Skies: I'm Your Venus" It talks about some of the historical significance of Kepler's mathematical contributions way back in the 1600s.
Of course the eye safety considerations are also discussed.
Happy and Safe Viewing!
Nice description and video
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It is getting very cloudy in Houston :(
The Exploratorium will stream live coverage of the Transit of venus from 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM SLT Tuesday June 5.
The Exploratorium will stream live coverage from Mauna Loa Observatory at this URL
In SL the transit will be streamed into the Exploratorium sim
Other live streams include
NASA from Mauna Kea Hawaii
The sky cleared around 7:30 pm EDT here in midcoast Maine. We used eclipse shades to watch. It was amazing sight to see
Venus_Transit_Midcoast_Maine.jpg (0.01 Mb)
Here's an image of the transit from a sun spotter!
DSCN0057.JPG (2.62 Mb)
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Arlene, I am so envious that you were able to "watch"! I was grateful for the wonderful website resources to see it secondhand. Isn't technology fabulous?
Went to my local museum and observatory but had some technical difficulties and clouds! :(
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