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Uploaded:2012-05-23
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Hank briefs us on the upcoming planetary transit of Venus, which will be observable June 5th and 6th of 2012.

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Instructions for watching the transit (or an eclipse) using binoculars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68Lve169iiQ

References:
http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/transit12.html
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2012/18may_venustransit/
(Intro Music)

Hank: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of Sci Show news, first off, Space X- after lots of delays has officially begun its mission to the International Space Station.

The launch was successful, carrying with it the hopes and dreams of several billionaires. And also, you know, the future of commercial space exploration. 

We will see though, if the docking with the International Space Station is successful and if it is, I'm calling this "New Era Ushered In".


Now, if you're like me and you weren't able to see last Sunday's solar eclipse because of the stupid weather, turn that frown up-side down because there's another even rarer celestial event coming our way. 

Starting the afternoon of June 5th, in the Western Hemisphere, Venus is going to pass in front of the Sun in what's called a Planetary Transit. 

Mercury and Venus are the only planets that can transit the Sun from our perspective, of course. Mercury, does it thirteen times a century and it's super small so it's hard to see but Venus, transits twice within a few years and doesn't do it again for more than a century.


The first transit of Venus observed by a telescope was in 1639 and the event allowed astronomers to measure Venus' diameter for the very first time. 

Since then, Venus has only transited the Sun 5 times. 


Most recent? Was in June 2004 and this year's will be the last until December 2117, so this is actually a once in a lifetime observation here. 

As you could tell it's basically a scaled-down eclipse: Venus forming a small, black disk that crosses the face of the Sun over the course of 7 hours. 

Unlike in 1639, the transit doesn't have a lot of scientific value today but it remains one of the awesomest spectacles visible to the naked eye. 





I know you know this, but don't look at the Sun through a telescope of binoculars or anything that doesn't have special, heavy duty solar filters. 

So if you don't happen to own a pair of no. 14 welder's goggles, you can use a telescope or half of a pair of binoculars to project a magnified image of the sun onto a piece of paper or a cardboard. 

There's a link to instructions on how to do that in the description below. 

The fun begins June 5th at 3:09 pm Pacific Daylight Time and most of North America will be able to watch the transit begin as the Sun sets. 

Likewise folks from Great Britain to Western Australia will be able to watch it and, as the Sun rises on June 6th. 

Next time you and I meet, this amazing event will have just ended because the Sci Show news team is taking a week off, so I'll see you again on Wednesday, June 6th. And remember, practice safe science. 


(outro)