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Physics Department to Host Party for Viewing Rare Planetary Phenomenon: the Transit of Venus

Old Dominion University's Department of Physics is hosting a beach party Tuesday, June 5, to celebrate one of the rarest phenomena of astronomy, the transit of Venus.

This planetary movement occurs in pairs eight years apart, but then doesn't happen again for more than a century. The orbit of the planet Venus takes it directly between the sun and Earth, so it becomes visible against, and therefore obscures a small portion of, the solar disk.

The latest transit of Venus will occur between 6-8:20 p.m. on June 5. The ODU community is invited to gather with lawn chairs at Whitehurst Beach, on the western edge of campus, to watch the astronomical show. Beverages and grills will be provided.

A transit is similar to a solar eclipse by the moon. While the diameter of Venus is almost four times that of the moon, Venus appears smaller, and travels more slowly across the face of the sun, because it is much farther away from Earth. Observations of transits of Venus helped scientists use the principle of parallax to calculate the distance between the sun and the Earth.

A warning: viewing the transit of Venus without proper equipment or techniques can result in serious eye injury or blindness, as with a solar eclipse. Physics department faculty and staff will be on hand to help attendees view the transit safely through solar-filtered telescopes.

If it is cloudy or raining on June 5, the event will move inside the Mary Denson Pretlow Planetarium, starting at 5 p.m., where a webcast from Mona Kea, Hawaii, will be shown.

Those who are interested in witnessing this planetary phenomenon should take advantage of the opportunity on June 5. The next viewing won't occur until 2117. Those planning to attend the beach party are asked to RSVP by Friday, June 1, to 683-3116 or www.odu.edu/ao/univents (event code: TOV12).

This article was posted on: June 5, 2012

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