WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #12-22 "Venus Transits the Sun"
Air Dates May 28 - June 3, 2012



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: Welcome to Star Gazers. I'm James Albury, director of the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium in Gainesville, Florida. 

DEAN: And I'm Dean Regas, outreach astronomer from the Cincinnati Observatory

DEAN: We're both here to help you be sure you know what you're seeing in the night sky when you...

BOTH: Look up. 

STOP AND DROP

JAMES: Next Tuesday June 5th we'll be treated to a very special celestial event. Late that afternoon a small black disc will start to cross the face of the Sun. It's not a sun spot but a planet, the planet Venus. Eight years ago on June 8, 2004 Venus crossed the face of the Sun for the first time since 1882. It didn't happen at all in the 20th century. And after next week Venus won't cross the face of the sun again until 2117. This is a big deal for star gazers so be sure to see it.

DEAN: Now Venus orbits the Sun inside of the Earth's orbital path and it moves faster.  Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun at what's called inferior conjunction every 584 days. So logically we might expect these transits of Venus to happen fairly often but it doesn't work that way.

STOP

JAMES: If Venus and the Earth each orbited the Sun in the same plane, transits would happen frequently.  But, they don't do that. The orbit of Venus is inclined to the plane of the Earth's orbit by 3.4 degrees, so when Venus passes between the Sun and the Earth every 584 days, Venus is usually a little bit above or a little bit below the Sun. So Venus is then invisible due to the Sun's glare plus you're looking at the dark, unlit, night-time side of Venus. The next time Venus passes between us and the Sun will be January 11, 2014 and Venus will be about 5 degrees north of the Sun.

DEAN: A similar thing happens with our Moon. Every month the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, yet we do not see a solar eclipse every month. That's because the Moon's orbit is also slightly inclined to Earth's orbit, so the new Moon is usually a little above or a little below the Sun. A transit of Venus is essentially an annular eclipse of the sun by Venus. And in case you are wondering about Mercury, yes, Mercury does transit the face of the Sun but it does so more frequently as it's closer to the Sun. The next transit of Mercury will be May 9, 2016. Another weird little transit tidbit is that venus only transits the Sun in June or December while Mercury always does it in May or November, at least for the next few thousand years or so.

STOP

JAMES: Now hear this, now hear this. The Sun is dangerous to look at with your naked eyes. There are safe ways to do it but you must know what you're doing. Never look at the Sun directly with any binoculars or telescope unless there is a proper Sun filter in front of it. If you got a telescope from your Grandpa that has the kind of solar filter that you screw into an eyepiece please do me a favor. Take a big rock, place that solar filter on it, then go find an even bigger rock and smash it to smithereens. Go to our stargazersonline.org website and we'll have loads of links that will explain how to see this transit of Venus safely.

DEAN: This transit of Venus will be visible for all of the U.S. but the Sun and Venus will be higher in the sky the farther west you live. - In Cincinnati where I live the transit will start around 6 p.m. and the Sun will set before it's over.

JAMES: For me in Florida it'll be about the same but the Sun will be higher for Dean when the transit begins. Be sure to look on our stargazersonline.org website for info about a webcast of this transit. We're planning on doing one from California and Dean's going to see it in Arizona.

STOP

DEAN: Now as great as this transit of Venus is gonna be it's not the only thing happening in the sky next week, especially at night. Look after sunset, just above where the Sun disappeared, and you'll see the planet Mercury climbing higher each night until the end of June.

JAMES: Just above Mercury you'll easily spot the stars Castor and Pollux. A super special night to mark on your calendar is June 21 when a young crescent moon, - Mercury plus Castor and Pollux will line up in the west just after sunset.

DEAN: So be sure to catch the transit of Venus on June 5th and

JAMES: The planet Mercury just after sunset.

BOTH: Keep looking up!

 

Episode #12-22 "Venus Transits the Sun"
Air Dates May 28 - June 3, 2012



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: Next Tuesday afternoon on June 5th we'll be treated to a very special celestial event. A small black disc will cross the face of the Sun. It's not a Sun spot but a planet, the planet Venus.

DEAN: After next week Venus won't cross the face of the Sun again until 2117. This is a big deal for star gazers so be sure to see it.

STOP AND DROP

DEAN: Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun every 584 days. So we might expect these transits of Venus to happen fairly often but it doesn't work that way. Most of the time Venus misses the Sun.

JAMES: The Sun is always dangerous to look at with your naked eyes. There are safe ways to do it but you must know what you're doing. Never look at the Sun directly with any binoculars or telescope.

DEAN: Go to stargazersonline.org for loads of links that will explain how to see this transit  safely plus info about our webcast.

BOTH: Keep looking up

 

Star Gazers Home Page Back to WPBT2.org Miami Science Museum Kika Silva Pla Planetarium | Santa Fe College The Cincinnati Observatory Support Star Gazes with your donation