June 3, 2004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Dale Stowell, (253) 964-6780 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Public can view rare transit of Venus on NASA Web cast June 7
Local stargazers will have their only opportunity until the year 2012 to view a rare transit of Venus on the evening of Monday, June 7 at the theater at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom. The Tacoma Astronomical Society and the college will present a special free program beginning at 8:30 p.m. that will feature two lectures, Observing the Night Sky presented by Síon Heaney of the astronomical society and Venus presented by Paul Hinds, astronomy instructor. The evening will conclude with the NASA Web cast of the transit of Venus on the main viewing screen.
A transit of Venus occurs when the planet passes between Earth and the sun. It is similar to a solar eclipse except that the sun will not be blocked out, according to Heaney. Viewers will see the dark disk of Venus move across the surface of the sun as a black dot,” he said. “It gives people an idea of the dynamics of the solar system.” This transit of Venus is visible only from the other side of the globe, he explained, and NASA is making a video of the phenomenon available via Web cast. The transit is expected to begin at 10:13 p.m. and will take about 20 minutes for Venus to complete its passage.
The last transit of Venus occurred in 1882. The next one, in 2012, will be visible from this side of the world. But if you miss that one, there won’t be another transit of Venus until 2117, Heaney said.
Monday’s program is part of Pierce College’s summer “Star Parties” series presented in cooperation with The Tacoma Astronomical Society to offer close-ups of celestial life to the public. Indoor lectures and demonstrations are available on these evenings regardless of the weather. On nights with clear skies TAS volunteers will provide telescopic observations of the moon, planets, star clusters, nebulae, galaxies and double stars. Each season offers something new and unexpected for viewers.
In addition to the transit of Venus program, the following events are scheduled:
Dates Lecture Topic
June 12th & 26th Constellations–starts at 9 PM
July 24th Meteors and Asteroids–starts at 9 PM
August 7th Astronomy Fair — 11 a.m. through midnight
Pierce College Fort Steilacoom is at 9401 Farwest Dr. S.W., Lakewood. For information call Paul Hinds, (253) 964-6440 or visit www.tas-online.org.