Local star-gazers and skywatching enthusiasts are encouraged to join Texas A&M University astronomers and physicists next week for a rare celestial event, the transit of Venus.

This phenomenon occurs when Earth's nearest planetary neighbor passes in front of the Sun, traveling across its face like a speck, and is so rare that astronomers say it will not happen again in the lifetime of anyone who's currently, say, college-age and beyond. All the more reason to make your way to the Texas A&M campus Tuesday (June 5) for this exclusive viewing opportunity, scheduled for 5 to 8:30 p.m. outside the Memorial Student Center in the Rudder Plaza/Fountain area.

In the U.S., the transit will begin shortly after 5 p.m. (CDT) and last roughly six hours. Approximately 18 minutes after Venus's silhouette first touches the outer edge of the Sun, the planet will be entirely in front of the Sun, marking the most dramatic point of transitory viewing, particularly with a telescope, according to seasoned experts.

"This relatively rare astronomical occurrence is quite interesting to watch through a telescope, and also historically important -- a measurement made during the transit of Venus in 1761 led to the first measurement of the size of our Solar System," notes Texas A&M astronomer Jennifer Marshall.

Tuesday will mark only the eighth transit of Venus since the invention of the telescope. Such transits occur in pairs that are eight years apart (the last transit occurred in 2004) and then don't happen again for more than a hundred years. Therefore, if you miss Tuesday's, Marshall says you -- or, more likely, your descendents -- will be out of luck until 2117 or 2125.

To learn more about a Venus transit and what it involves, visit http://transitofvenus.org/.

For more information on Texas A&M Astronomy and related events, click here.

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Click here to see photos from the event, courtesy of Texas A&M Physics and Astronomy.


Contact: Dr. Jennifer Marshall, (979) 862-2782 or marshall@physics.tamu.edu or Dr. Kevin Krisciunas, (979) 845-7018 or krisciunas@physics.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Astronomical Alignments

    Tuesday's transit of Venus will be an extremely rare event, so make plans to join Texas A&M Physics & Astronomy for the festivities against the backdrop of an equally one-of-a-kind facility, Texas A&M's newly renovated Memorial Student Center.

© Texas A&M University. To request use of any of our photographs for educational use or to view additional options from our archive, please contact the College of Science Communications Office.

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