Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Fascinating Transit of Venus 2012

 Transit of Venus 

2012 Live Webcast from Hawaii

Transit of Venus | exploratorium.edu/venus

So How do I explain this to my kids?
Start with a book? Reading a library or book you borrow or buy on the topic with
some pictures to explain science is a good start.

A visually spectacular guide to the history, science and significance of Venus’s rare transits across the sun—the perfect companion to the transit on June 5, 2012 (the last one until 2117!)  
A transit of Venus is one of the rarest and most historically significant planetary alignments—since the invention of the telescope in 1608, there have been only seven. A must-have for all sky-watchers, Transit of Venus is packed with scientific and historical context—for example, astronomers calculated the distance from Earth to the Sun by studying the 1769 transit, which Captain Cook famously sailed to uncharted Tahiti to observe. Here also is an unsurpassed breadth of visual material: NASA photographs of Venus, illustrated observations of earlier transits, and rarely published images of the instruments and expeditions made to study them. With this book, the grandeur and history of transits will be accessible to everyone interested in the ceaseless, wondrous movements of the planets in our solar system.
The Web: 
This website has some fabulous information I found on the Venus transit  http://www.exploratorium.edu/venus

A Venus transit is a phenomenon in which the disk of the planet Venus passes like a small shadow across the face of the Sun. The transit can be seen (with proper protection!) by the unaided eye and looks something like a moving sunspot. (Sunspots take about two weeks to cross the face of the Sun, however, while Venus takes a little over six hours). Among the rarest of astronomical events, Venus transits occur eight years apart—and then don’t happen again for more than a century. The last transit before 2004 took place in 1882.
 A Venus transit is similar to a solar eclipse, in which the face of the Sun is blocked by the Moon. But we don’t see a solar eclipse every time the Moon is between Earth and the Sun—which is every time there’s a new Moon. Similarly, we don’t see a transit of Venus every time Venus is between Earth and the Sun—which happens about every 584 days or 1.6 years. That’s because both Venus and the Moon, from our earthly point of view, can be above or below the Sun (Fig.2), and sunlight reaches us undisturbed.
The orbit of Venus around the Sun is tipped in relation to the orbit of Earth. As viewed from the Sun, the orbits cross at two points (called the nodes), and it is only at these points that the planets and the Sun line up directly (Fig.3).

 1996: Venus was too far south to transit the Sun.
2004: Venus transits the southern hemisphere of the Sun.
2012: Venus transits the northern hemisphere of the Sun.
2020: Venus will be too far north to transit the Sun.

Pretty interesting stuff, exciting that this year Venus will be closer and we will get to see it possibly. This would make a great science fair project or presentation! Even for traditional schooling kids!

Happy Homeschooling

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