Rare Venus Transit Visible To Houston
by: Laurie Johnson, June 4, 2012 8:06:00 pm
Venus transits the Sun in pairs eight years apart, only in June or December.
The first of this pair of transits was in June of 2004, but it wasn't visible in Houston.
This is the second of the pair and for Astronomer Carolyn Sumners, is something to check off the bucket list.
"I have not seen a transit of Venus. I've seen a transit of Mercury, they're a little more common, actually. And it's going to be my one time in my life to see it too. So like everybody else, it's just wow. You can tell your great-grandchildren, because they won't see it."
Sumners is vice president of astronomy and physics for the Houston Museum of Natural Science. She says Venus will line up almost exactly with the Earth and the Sun and will appear as a black dot against the Sun. Mercury and Venus are the only planets to line up this way.
The museum will set up filtered telescopes free to the public at the main location, the Sugar Land location and the George Observatory.
"It cannot be viewed without protecting your eyes. If you glance at the Sun, you know I've glanced at the Sun before and it never hurt me, that's true. But you're not glancing at the Sun, you're staring at it trying to see a little dot on it. And the Sun is just too bright. And that's why we're having the events at all three of our locations, so that hopefully people can come to one of them where they can view this very special event. They can view it in a way that's safe and they have seen it."
There won't be another Venus transit for more than a hundred years. The next one visible in Houston will be on the morning of December 8th, 2125.