From: Frank Warren <frank-warren.nul> Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2004 04:54:36 -0800 Fwd Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2004 16:34:38 -0500 Subject: Transit Of Venus A Rare Celestial Phenomenon Source: Sun Journal http://www.newbernsj.com/SiteProcessor.cfm?Template=/GlobalTemplates/Details.cfm&StoryID=13803&Section=Local February 14,2004 Transit of Venus a rare celestial phenomenon: It will occur June 8 Patricia Smith Freedom ENC Few, if any, who are alive today have ever seen a transit of Venus - the last time one occurred was 1882. Those born in the 20th Century will get their first glimpse of the celestial event this summer when Venus passes directly between the Earth and the sun June 8. "Because of the rarity of the event it's kind of an interesting phenomenon to see," said Richard McColman, program producer with the Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill. As the planets revolve around the solar system they move closely, but not quite, on the same plane, so planetary alignments do not happen that often, McColman said. The next Transit of Venus will happen in 2012. The entire Transit of Venus will last about six hours, but only the last hour and 26 minutes will be visible from North Carolina as the sun rises, McColman said. "Basically it will just look like kind of a little dot that just gradually moves across the sun," McColman said. As the planet starts to come out from in front of the sun, viewers will see a sunlight ring (the illuminated atmosphere) around the part that is not silhouetted, said Brian Davis, professor of physics at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. "That's an incredible sight," Davis said. The Transit of Venus can be seen without magnification, but it will be very small, McColman said. "Most people would not even notice it," he said. By telescope viewers will be able to discern the planet as opposed to a diffused-appearing sunspot, he said. Using a proper sun filter is a must, regardless of how the transit is viewed, McColman said. Never look directly at the sun, he said, because it can cause damage to the eyes.
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