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ASU Planetarium Offers Venus Viewing

June 04, 2012

Staff from Angelo State University’s Global Immersion Center (Planetarium) and members of the San Angelo Astronomy Society will offer a special Venus observation event on Tuesday, June 5, outside the ASU Vincent Nursing-Physical Science Building, 2333 Vanderventer St.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. and is open free to the public.  Telescopes for safe viewing of Venus’ transit across the Sun will be provided.  The Venus transit occurs only once every 105 years, so this is truly a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to observe the phenomenon. 

According to Planetarium staff, the transit of Venus is a miniature eclipse, so safety rules for observing the Sun should be followed, including never looking directly at the Sun without using a safe solar filter. 

Precisely timed measurements of past transits of Venus were used to determine the size of our solar system, and the search for transits of planets orbiting distant stars is one way to find other planetary systems in the Milky Way galaxy.  As Venus passes across the face of the Sun, the Sun’s total brightness dips by a tiny fraction.  The decrease in brightness is not detectable to the human eye, but it is measurable by sensitive instruments.  NASA’s Kepler mission is looking at over 150,000 distant stars simultaneously to detect periodic tiny dips in stellar brightness, which hint at the presence of companion planets transiting their host stars.  Early results from the Kepler mission suggest there may be over 50 billion planets in the Milky Way galaxy, of which 500 million could be Earth-like and reside in the so-called habitable zone of the star, making life possible on their surfaces. 

For more information on ASU’s Venus observation event, call the Planetarium at 325-942-2136.

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Global Immersion Center
325-942-2136