Educate about the Transit of Venus

If I were to take a guess, 99% of the general population did not know what a “Transit of Venus” was until yesterday evening, when its occurrence was announced on the evening news.  Astronomers, however, have been looking forward to this event for decades, if not centuries.


A “transit of Venus” occurs when our sister planet crosses directly in front of the sun, and revels to us a little black spot on the latter’s surface.  Contrary to the reports of various news sources, the last transit of Venus occurred in June 2004, less than a decade ago.  The next, however, will not take place again until December 2117.  That being said, if you missed the transit in ’04, this is probably your last chance to catch it.

As most of you may know, however, it is very unwise to
be staring at the sun all afternoon, waiting for this event to occur. 
For this reason, NG Education recommends learning how to build a Solar Eclipse Viewer
through our website.  By slightly adapting this activity for your
students, the same pinhole viewer used to look at solar eclipses and
sunspots can be used for a “transit,” or any other solar activity.  

Using these tools, educators, parents, and friends can teach their
children and students about safe amateur sun observation.  Through this
activity, the students will learn more about solar eclipses, learn
safety precautions, and learn to make their own viewers.  This activity
is even feasible for a group of friends wanting to look for the transit
this afternoon!

Following the event, entertain yourselves with some great National Geographic movies about the sun, such as Wildest Weather in the Solar System and Staring at the Sun.

How To Be Dazzled By The Transit of Venus, Not Blinded

Astronomy Magazine article about the transit

— Justin Fisch for National Geographic Education

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