Tue, Jun 05, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Stargazers prepare for Venus transit

Staff writer, with CNA

Venus transits across the face of the sun in a file photo provided by the Chiayi Amateur Astronomy Association. A rare transit of Venus takes place tomorrow. Attempting to view the event directly may cause permanent damage to the eyes.

Photo courtesey of Chiayi Amateur

Stargazers will have a chance to witness the transit of Venus tomorrow, a once-in-a-lifetime event that will not occur again until 2117, the Taipei Astronomical Museum said.

Venus will begin its trajectory between the sun and the Earth at 6:10am in a process that lasts six hours and 36 minutes, the museum said.

However, it said the phenomenon would not be easy to observe because of the small size of the planet as seen from Earth.

“It is like trying to see a small raisin in front of a basketball,” museum assistant researcher Chang Kuei-lan (張桂蘭) said.

Nonetheless, Chang said that, weather permitting, the event is not to be missed, since it only occurs about once a century.

She said the phenomenon always happens in pairs, with each leg of the pair being eight years apart, but with each pair being at least 105 years apart. The next Venus transits will take place in 2117 and 2125, she added.

The museum cautioned that observers should use protective gear or the pinhole method to prevent damage to the eyes while watching Venus’ transit, adding that it would provide eclipse glasses for visitors.

Meanwhile, National Cheng Kung University in Greater Tainan said that people in the area would be able to see the full process if the weather permits. The last time the celestial event took place, in 2004, heavy clouds in most parts of Taiwan blocked visibility.

The school is setting up telescopes on campus for people to observe the celestial event, university officials said.

The officials cautioned observers to use protective viewing gear and not stare at the transit for longer than 30 seconds at a time.

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