Solar telescopes in PAC Plaza will allow for viewing of Venus June 5

Western Today staff

June 4, 2012

Faculty from Western Washington University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy will set up solar telescopes in Western’s Red Square PAC Plaza at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, to safely observe the transit of Venus across the sun -- essentially a mini-eclipse -- and the public is invited to attend and watch the rare solar event, weather permitting.

The next transit of Venus -- when the planet crosses between the earth and the sun -- will not occur for more than 100 years, in 2117. Transits of Venus, one of the rarest predictable astronomical phenomena, are of great importance because they were used as early as the 18th century to measure of the size of the solar system, and measurements from around the world of this transit will be used to compute an updated, precise measurement of the size of the sun. Similar observations of faraway stars are used to gauge if they may have orbiting planets.

For more information on the transit of Venus or the observation event in Red Square, contact Ken Rines, Western Washington University assistant professor of Physics and Astronomy, at