The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 4, 2012

WATCH: Rare celestial spectacle to unfold in Tuesday night sky

Next transit of Venus takes place in 2117

A rare celestial occurrence — the transit of Venus — will be visible to earthlings this evening. Next chance to see it: December 2117.

“The most simple explanation is that the planet Venus will pass between us and the sun, and it will appear as a dot on the surface of the sun that will move across the face of the sun,” said Walter Powell, a volunteer with the Stilabower Public Observatory in Lamar.

The observatory will be open for the event.

For astronomers throughout the ages, the transit of Venus has offered a scientific way to measure the size of our solar system by calculating the distance between the Earth and the sun.

The transit, although it happens only every century or so, actually occurs in pairs about eight years apart, with the first crossing for the current transit in 2004. Before that, the last transit of Venus took place in 1882.

Observers in the Midwest will see the transit of Venus starting at 5:04 p.m. today until sunset. The entire transit will last more than six hours.

“It’s the rarest of the rare,” Astronomy magazine’s Bob Berman said in a broadcast publicizing today’s live feed of the event on the space website Slooh. He and Slooh’s Patrick Paolucci predict that more than 1 million people will visit the site to witness what they are billing as “a worldwide event.”

“They only happen twice a century,” Berman said. “It happens, followed by 121 1/2 years before the next one; then eight; then 105; another eight years; 121 1/2 years; eight. That’s the sequence, and it repeats forever. Nobody alive now will see that next one. This is the last transit for everybody living today, so that makes it very rare and very special.”

Lamar viewing

In Lamar, Powell will open the observatory at Fifth and Maple streets from about 5 to 8:30 p.m. to give area residents a place to view the transit. Although a telescope is not necessary, the transit is best seen when it is magnified.

Powell said he hopes viewers in Lamar will be able to use the observatory’s 14-inch telescope, which he plans to outfit with a solar filter.

“Through a telescope without a filter, it would instantly fry your eye,” he said. “But if our solar filter isn’t viable — as we haven’t used it in a while and don’t yet know its condition — we can still set up a projection apparatus to view it instead.”

For those without access to a telescope, viewing from a yard is fine, Powell said, but people should “never look at it with the naked eye” or with standard sunglasses. Instead, he recommends making a pinhole projector using a thin piece of cardboard opaque enough to block the sunlight, then projecting the image onto a sheet of paper beneath it.

Experts suggest that one widely available filter for safe solar viewing is No. 14 welder’s glass. It is imperative that the welding hood houses a No. 14 or darker filter.

A variety of viewing methods also are described in detail at http://venustransit.nasa.gov, where NASA will offer a live webcast of the event that will last the length of the transit. The footage will stream live from the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, with accompanying commentary from experts. Times are subject to change, but the webcast is scheduled to begin at 4:45 p.m. Joplin time.

Another option is to view the transit from your armchair via www.slooh.com.

“It’s the biggie on the calendar,” said Slooh’s Paolucci.

“Historically, with many observations made through the centuries, we’re able to pin down the true scale of the solar system, the true distance to the sun, so it’s of great scientific interest for many many centuries,” Berman said. “Now, it’s a little less crucial scientifically, but it’s still plenty interesting as a spectacle.”



Venus

VENUS IS EARTH’S nearest neighbor. Only two celestial objects, other than the Earth’s moon, eclipse the sun: Mercury, which is too small to be seen with the naked eye, and Venus.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 070114 St Mary's cross 3.jpg Crucifix returns after three-year absence

    The original crucifix at St. Mary’s Catholic Church has come home. It had hung behind the altar since 1968, until the 2011 tornado destroyed the church and nearly everything in it, along with the nearby rectory, school, parish center and more.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: SEK Art Fest a perfect excuse for ice cream and a stroll

    For the second year, my family and I took an “ice cream stroll” down Broadway on a perfect summer evening to see SEK Art Fest.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042017 Jo Ellis_c.jpg Jo Ellis: Camp offers classes for budding artists

    Oh, to be a kid again and have the opportunity to attend artCentral’s summer art camp.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Nixon signs child abuse legislation

    Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon last week signed a bill sponsored by state Rep. Bill Lant, R-Pineville, to help improve the state’s response in cases of child abuse and neglect.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • r071014peacelutheran4.jpg Rebuilt Peace Lutheran adds outdoor features in nature-centered ministry

    Katharine Redpath keeps a pair of red and black leopard-print rain boots in her car for use in her pastoral duties at Peace Lutheran Church. “I never thought it would be part of my uniform,” she joked on a recent rainy day as she pulled them on in preparation for another trek onto the church grounds. Since opening their new building in north Joplin last spring, church members have moved beyond the brick-and-mortar structure.

    July 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • Joplin City Council schedules meeting with Wallace Bajjali

    The Joplin City Council will get its monthly update from representatives of Wallace Bajjali Development Partners when it meets for an informal session Monday night.

    July 13, 2014

  • Missouri’s Bright Flight scholarship to be fully funded for top students

    Missouri’s Bright Flight scholarship will be fully funded for top students this year for the first time since the 2009-10 academic year, officials with the state Department of Higher Education announced Friday.

    July 13, 2014

  • r071014newbiz5.jpg Study examines costs of starting businesses in area towns

    When Firehouse Pottery opened in Joplin this spring, it was just one of the hundreds of new businesses that launch in the Four-State Area each year. Charity Hawkins, a Joplin native, said she and her husband “wanted to do something that would be great” for their hometown and decided to open a business that catered to both youths and adults. But starting a new business is a high-risk gamble.

    July 12, 2014 3 Photos

  • 071314stmarysmove.jpg More than 100 volunteers turn out to move school to its new permanent home

    Staff and students of St. Mary’s Elementary School have been through a lot of changes together since their old school at 505 W. 25th St. was destroyed in the 2011 Joplin tornado. Second-grade teacher Bette Schoeberl said the temporary quarters were cramped and that it was sometimes hard to move around. On Saturday, Schoeberl and other staff members moved into their new school building.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fronts to bring cooler weather

    If you can make it through this warm weekend, you’re due for a break. With highs in the mid-90s Saturday and Sunday, and a heat index pushing close to triple digits, the weekend will be warm, but cool weather is on the way, according to Jay Colucci, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Station in Springfield.

    July 12, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

New Kansas teaching license regulations would allow some individuals who have ample expertise but do not have education degrees to become secondary school teachers. Do you agree or disagree with that change?

Agree
Disagree
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter