When we think of an eclipse of the sun, we naturally think of the moon covering the sun with day turning into night. Just this month, on May 20, Tucsonans were treated to an eclipse in which the moon took a healthy “bite” out of the sun, not quite completely covering it.
Next Tuesday (June 5), we will see the planet Venus eclipse the sun. Actually, since Venus is much further away from us than is the moon, it will look like a large black dot silhouetted against the far larger bright solar disk. This is called a “transit” and you must use protective filters over your eyesto observe it. It will be observable from about 3:30 p.m. until sunset. Don’t miss it, because it won’t happen again until the year 2117.
The lecture portion of the program will begin at 11:30 a.m. in the Great Room of the Academy building. Michael Chriss, a retired professor of astronomy and planetarium director at the College of San Mateo in California, will talk about the history and importance of these events.
Marcia Neugebauer, a retired scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will then discuss observations of the atmosphere of Venus made by the solar satellite SOHO as it passed through the plasma tail of Venus during a near-transit of Venus in 1996.
After the two talks, visitors are encouraged to enjoy lunch in the Academy Cafe, where soup, sandwich and salad bar prices ranging from $4.50 to $9.25.
Then, starting at about 3:30 p.m., people will have the opportunity to observe the transit for themselves through special telescopes set up on the Academy Village patio.