UPDATED: Rain-or-shine Planetarium demos and CPISB Room 120 webcasts; weather-dependent rooftop viewing details
Planetarium demonstrations, rain or shine:
Tuesday, June 5, 1:30, 3:30, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.
Planetarium, Room 220
Planetarium demonstrations explaining what you should expect to see, why Venus transits happen so infrequently, and how to view the transit safely. These presentations will be relatively brief (15-30 minutes) and will take place in the UAA Planetarium (CPISB, Room 220) at 1:30, 3:30, 5:30, and 7:30 p.m. Free tickets will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 1 p.m. on Tuesday. These planetarium demos will occur rain-or-shine.
Venus Transit roof-top observation opportunity:
Tuesday, June 5, 2:06-8:47 p.m.
East/CPISB parking garage roof-top
Public observing on the roof of UAA’s East Parking Garage, northeast of the CPISB. We’ll have telescopes with protective filters and projection systems, and we’ll also have solar-viewing glasses available, all to keep your eyes safe. The entire top floor of the garage will be blocked off for pedestrian use only, and the two lower floors will offer free parking throughout the day. Telescopes will likely be set up much earlier in the day, but you won’t actually be able to see Venus until between 2:06-8:47 p.m. AKDT. Outdoor viewing conditions will be weather-dependent.
CPISB, Room 120
Webcasts of the transit from around the world, projected on the big screens in the lecture hall of our building (CPISB, Room 120). The webcast viewings will occur rain-or-shine.
If you have some knowledge of telescopes and would like to help out as a volunteer, we’d be happy to have you. It’s very important that every telescope be supervised at all times, to ensure that all protective measures remain in place. We don’t want to see any smoking eyepieces, or smoking corneas! If you think you’re the right volunteer for this job, please email us directly at email@example.com. Similarly, if you have your own telescope and an appropriate solar filter, we may be able to provide you space to set up in our “telescope row”. (We may also have a few extra sets of protective gear for telescopes, but we can’t guarantee that we’ll have enough.)
Safe viewing of the Venus Transit:
One way to view the transit safely is with special “eclipse glasses,” which are also safe for regular solar viewing. (Welder’s glass #14 and above also works, but most other tricks you’ve heard of do NOT!) Eclipse glasses block 99.999% of the visible light from the Sun, as well as 100percent of the harmful UV/IR wavelengths. The view through these glasses won’t be spectacular-the black spot of Venus will be just 1/30th of the apparent diameter of the Sun, near the limit of human vision-but they should be enough for you to track the progress of this rare and historic event. We’ll have a few sets on hand that you can use while you’re with us on the parking garage roof. There will also be eclipse glasses available for sale at the open house for $2.50 each. The sale of these glasses will help support one of the expedition teams who is visiting us to record the view of the transit from Alaska!
Expedition teams come to Alaska to view the Venus Transit:
Joining us on the roof of UAA’s East Parking Garage will be two “expedition” teams from Outside. One is the Sun-Earth-Moon Systems group from the University of North Dakota, who will be webcasting the event at http://www.sems.und.edu. The other is the “Shadow Band,” a team of citizen-scientists from the University of North Texas, who hope to validate Edmund Halley’s method for calculating the distance to the Sun by comparing observations with their sister expedition in Hawaii. The UNT team also plans to use footage from their expeditions to produce a planetarium show, which will then be added to our roster at the UAA Planetarium!
This isn’t the first time that scientific expeditions have traveled great distances to see a transit of Venus. Just four transits ago in 1769, Lieut. James Cook was chosen to command an expedition to observe the event from newly “discovered” Tahiti. A few journeys later, now-Capt. Cook not only made the first European contact with the native Hawaiians, but he also found he had to turn and “Turnagain” in the Inlet that now bears his name. And Alaska and Hawaii have special importance on Tuesday as well, as they’re the only U.S. states who will see the transit in its entirety (weather permitting).
If you’re planning to attend this free event, please leave us a comment on our Facebook page, or message us on Twitter. And make sure you’ve Liked or Followed us on your preferred social media site, as we’ll be posting updates throughout the day on Tuesday.
Weather forecasts for Tuesday are looking up; here’s hoping for clear skies!