Transit of Venus Viewing
On June Fifth we had a special birthday party for Kidspace Board member, Dr. Mike Brown. There were two special gifts at the party.
The first gift was the Solar Sun Spotter exhibit of The Galvin Physics Forest. This solar telescope allows guests to view sunspots without the dangers of looking directly at the sun. The Sun Spotter is arranged so guests turn the bezel like a steering wheel until the sun appears on the screen. It takes some practice and a gentle hand, as a little turn can zoom the sun right across the screen. Once the sun is on the screen the mysteries of the solar system start to com e alive: the edges of the circle dance, the little black specks that are gigantic magnetic storms, that it takes eight minutes for the light to travel from the sun to our Sun Spotter.
Dr. Brown’s second gift came from the heavens, the transit of Venus. About 3:00PM, several people gathered around the Sun Spotter, enamored by the glowing yellow orb on the screen. Five minutes of intense staring by young and old eyes, yielded, “There it is, about Eight-thirty.” A slight indent on the left side of the sun crept into view at 3:05PM. After about 15 minutes the last bit of distortion slipped away and Venus, about the size of a pencil eraser was in full view transiting the five in sun on the Solar Sun Spotter.
The transits of Venus occur on a 243-year cycle, with a current pattern of 105.5 years , 8 years, 112.5 years and 8 years. This transit completed a cycle, so the next transit will occur in December 2117. Some of the guests who observed this transit at Kidspace were under two, so it maybe possible that one of them will be able to view another transit of Venus; for the rest of us, it was our last opportunity.
The transit occurred on the first Tuesday of June and the museum was open for Free Family Night, so many more guests were able to enjoy the sneak preview of the Galvin Physics Forest by viewing Venus on the Solar Sun Spotter. While the transit lasted six hours and 40 minutes, the viewing time was shortened at Kidspace, first by a stately oak, then the walls of the Arroyo Seco and finally sunset. Soon after the sun dipped behind the oak tree, Polynesian dancers performed in Stone Hollow Amphitheater and the large crowd enjoyed the museum until closing.
There were wide smiles all around and memories that will last, with many more to come when the Galvin Physics Forest opens in 35 days, Happy Birthday Dr. Brown.
Blog Entry by:
Gerard Gonzales, Nature Exchange Specialist, began at Kidspace in 2009 and enjoys sharing nature with children and watching their sense of wonder blossom.