Partial lunar eclipse today will be followed by transit of Venus after two days. Meanwhile solar glasses are in very high demand says Nabila Habib
This Tuesday sky watchers will get a rare treat to watch as Venus will slowly cross the face of the sun.
This is a rare phenomenon and took place last 251 years ago and after this Tuesday, it will next happen 105 years hence. Last time the transit of Venus took place; scientists made a number of discoveries and calculated a rough estimate of the size of our solar system. This is another opportunity for astronomers to study the yellow planet.
To watch the rare celestial occurrence, scientists and backyard astronomers around the world have gathered.
Dan Richman, a physics graduate student at the Johns Hopkins University, said, “It’s sort of an exciting thing to be able to see. It’s nice to be reminded sometimes that we’re part of this group of planets spinning around the sun.”
This is a very special occurrence for astronomers and students of astronomy across the globe because this is only the eighth one occurring after the invention of the telescope. Transits usually occur in pairs and the last one took place in 2004. The next one after this Tuesday will happen on 2117 after sunset at the East Coast. The following transit will take place in December 8, 2125 in Baltimore.
Lori Glaze, associate chief of the planetary geodynamics lab at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, said, “It has a lot of historical significance because it was a critical event along the way of being able to measure distances in our solar system.’
Like any solar eclipse, it is dangerous to watch the phenomenon with the naked eyes and facilities have been established for safe viewing to the Venus transit. Though watching the event with naked eye does not cause pain, it can cause blindness.
The transit will begin at about 6:04 p.m., with Venus visible as a black planet inching across the face of the sun. The path across the sun will take about seven hours. The sun would set at 8:30 p.m. and the transit would not be visible after this time, but NASA has made special arrangements to broadcast the event online from Hawaii, the ideal viewing location for this transit.
There are various enthusiasts readying for the transit. The Howard Astronomical League is a group of about 100 sky-watching enthusiasts. The group’s first vice president, Wayne Baggett, informed that they have readied about 25 telescopes on hand at the Howard County Conservancy equipped for safe viewing. Besides HAL, events have been organised at the Maryland Science Center, Space Telescope Science Institute and various Carroll County libraries that are offering opportunities to watch the transit safely.
Bagetta said, “It’s not going to be fireworks. We’re going to see a little black dot moving across the face of the sun. It’s not like it’s an exciting thing like a football game, but it’s exciting because they’re rare.”
Jim O’Leary, executive director of the science center, said, “They’re actually observing something that’s happening in the heavens, and that always makes it special.”