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Transit of Venus
May 31, 2012 5:28 PM   Subscribe

Next Wednesday's Transit of Venus (prev.) may be astronomically important, but is also a chance to reflect on a lot of important 18th and 19th century science, discovery and politics.
posted by wilful (14 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Anyone viewing this from Edinburgh, St Andrews, or nearby?
posted by jeffburdges at 6:14 PM on May 31, 2012


But why is it astronomically important? We are not in the ages of Lomonosov to once again discover atmosphere on Venus... I looked around and saw nothing important happening for us next Wednesday... well, apart from the spectacularity of the view!
posted by Viacondima at 6:20 PM on May 31, 2012


hey Viacondima, did you click one of the three links? Discovery of exoplanets.

Oh, I just realised, was that a pun? ha ha
posted by wilful at 6:24 PM on May 31, 2012


Sorry if I'm unnecessarily pedantic, but since wilful is in Australia, I just want to make sure that North Americans know that the transit is on Tuesday.
posted by rlk at 6:31 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just got this in my email:

Wellington Astronomical Society will be observing the Transit of Venus from near the Pyramid in Civic Square, Wellington.

In event of inclement weather, the telescope will be at the Library.

The postponement day will be 10 Dec 2117.

posted by Sebmojo at 6:43 PM on May 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


Apparently the transit is as almost as significant as the Australians winning the America's Cup.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:23 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well that's what my last link says. Personally I think it's a lot more interesting.
posted by wilful at 7:47 PM on May 31, 2012


One hundred and five years before this fantastically important event happens again, wow. It is a safe bet that no one in this thread will be alive to see it, and at least as many of our kids as not will never get a chance.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:32 PM on May 31, 2012


This is the only way I have ever heard that would make Australian yacht racing interesting.

But seriously though, this transit is really interesting. The synodic cycles of eclipses are fascinating, and the cycles of ascending node eclipses against the descending node eclipses is pretty amazing. Now I had heard of scientists using occultations of stars to measure the sun and its corona, but it never occurred to me that instrumentation had improved sufficiently that it could measure the sunlight going through the Venusian atmosphere.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:56 PM on May 31, 2012


There's a little black spot on the sun today?
posted by roboton666 at 10:13 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd like to say that your inclusion of the last link, "...18th and 19th century science..." makes your very good post a great one. Thanks!
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:20 PM on May 31, 2012


I'm looking forward to this enough to have bought some of those 90 cent opaque eclipse glasses for staring directly into the sun.

Anybody have any idea if I'll actually be able to see this with out binoculars or a telescope? That disc of Venus seems awfully small...
posted by cirrostratus at 7:30 AM on June 1, 2012


See also this excellent website, Transits of Venus, brought to you by the International Union of the History & Philosophy of Science. You can browse the collection by the four previous transit dates, in 1761, 1769, 1874 and 1882.
posted by verstegan at 7:42 AM on June 1, 2012


I feel for the guy observing in the Marquesas. The sort of bothersome chore you're glad is once in a lifetime. if he'd chosen the hunanities he coulda done cultural studies - & still seen the transit....
posted by Twang at 8:32 PM on June 1, 2012


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