Florida Tech Offers Free Evening at the Observatory for Transit of Venus June 5

MELBOURNE, FLA.—An Evening at the Observatory will offer the rare opportunity to witness the transit of Venus across the disk of the Sun at the rooftop F.W. Olin Observatory on June 5 at 6 p.m. Florida Institute of Technology’s Department of Physics and Space Sciences will host this free event, which is open to the public. The next occurrence of this event will be on Dec. 11, 2117. There have been only seven such transits since the invention of the telescope.

“The timing of this transit, as viewed simultaneously from several places on Earth, first allowed us to estimate the distance from the Earth to the Sun and to establish the scale of our solar system,” said Daniel Batcheldor, assistant professor of physics and space science.
A transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, becoming visible against the Sun. During a transit, Venus can be seen from Earth as a small black disk moving across the face of the Sun. The duration of such transits is usually measured in hours; the transit of 2004, for example, lasted six hours. Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena.

Observing transits of planets around other stars is a research project at Florida Tech, led by Professor Sam Durrance, a former astronaut. “By studying this transit, astronomers may be able to better understand some details of extra-solar planets, such as their atmosphere,” said Batcheldor.

Viewers are asked to not ever look directly at the Sun. Doing so may result in permanent eyesight damage. Observers at Florida Tech will be provided with special equipment in order to safely view the event.

This event is for all ages and will occur, weather permitting. Light refreshments will be provided.

The F.W. Olin Observatory is located atop the F.W. Olin Physical Sciences Center. Visitors should use the main entrance to the building and take the elevator to the fourth floor. Directions and a campus map can be found online at http://www.fit.edu/visitors/maps/

Contact Batcheldor for more information at (321) 674-7717 or at dbatcheldor@fit.edu.

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