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Venus sight last of a lifetime

Astronomy Club to host local viewing on Tuesday

Posted: June 4, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 4, 2012 1:55 a.m.

This 2004 photo shows the transit of Venus, which occurs when the planet Venus passes between the Earth and the sun, from Hong Kong.

 

The second rare celestial event within a few weeks will occur Tuesday afternoon as Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun.

The so-called "transit of Venus" is very rare and has historical significance because famous figures from history traveled great distances to watch it and used the information to measure the size of the solar system, said Steve Petzold, event coordinator for The Local Astronomy Club in Santa Clarita.

Those historic figures include famous explorer Capt. James Cook, Petzold said.

"Captain Cook traveled to Tahiti to see it," Petzold said. "All these names in history are linked to something in our history."

Santa Clarita residents don't have to travel so far for their view of the transit, which will show a small black dot - Venus - slowly moving across the face of the sun, Petzold said.

Residents with a western view of the sun will be able to watch the transit - though they should never look directly at the sun because it can cause retinal blindness.

While the transit can be viewed with a pinhole viewer - poking a nail through a piece of cardboard and then projecting the image onto another surface - the best way to see this phenomenon is with a solar-safe telescope, Petzold said.

The Local Astronomy Club will have several solar-safe telescopes and other equipment available to view the event, and residents only have to travel as far as a large parking lot on Carl Boyer Drive to use them, Petzold said.

The telescopes will have different levels of magnification, and some will allow people to see solar flares and other details not visible with pinhole viewers or solar safe glasses.

Astronomy club members also sponsored a public viewing last month during the solar eclipse, and hundreds of Santa Clarita Valley residents showed up at Central Park to watch the eclipse.

The transit of Venus starts at 3:06 p.m. Tuesday and ends at sunset - the sun will set before Venus completes its journey.

The most exciting part of the event will probably be when Venus enters the sun, Petzold said.

"I'm just glad that in my lifetime I'm getting to view one," Petzold said.

It will be 105 years before another transit of Venus.

kjonas@the-signal.com

661-287-5517

 

 

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