Thursday
Jun072012

« The Popularity of Venus »

As you may know, a big astronomical event transpired on June 5th, something that won't happen again for more than 100 years. Venus slipped between us and the Sun for a few brief moments.

Historically, this was an important event, as astronomers could observe the transit from different locations on the earth, and from that, determine the distance between the earth and the sun - one Astronomical Unit or AU. This was big news - so much so, that rather dangerous expeditions were launched to send astronomers to far flung locations just to gather this data... people were risking their lives for it.

Even today, we are still gleaning important information from this event. On June 5th, astronomers gathered data which will help them better determine features of exoplanets going forward - not just the existence of such, but potentially their size and the characteristics of their atmospheres. Pretty cool.

But even cooler was that there was so much interest in Toronto to watch this twice-in-a-lifetime event. Rocky and I live across from University of Toronto's Varisty Stadium, which is currently undergoing an ugly field replacement, so we were surprised to see a line forming. By 6:00, thousands of people were filing into the stadium.

Rocky looked it up and discovered that UofT was hosting a Transit of Venus viewing at the stadium, which was happily situated to allow for perfectly clear viewing of the sun at the precise time of day of the transit. They were also giving out free Transit (or Eclipse) glasses so you could watch it directly.

We were just so impressed with our fellow Torontonians for their interest in this spacetacular event. It's heartwarming to know that observing scientific events can fill stadiums. Good on ya people.

We were lucky enough to run over before they'd run out of glasses, so we got to check it out ourselves. I have to admit it was pretty hard to see Venus... it was like the head of a pin against the disc of the sun. But it was still cool to see.

Here are some pictures we took of the event.

And how cool are those glasses? Well, thousands of people suddenly wanted to wear them, so... very cool then?

 

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