'Captain Cook, Citizen Scientists and Venus Transits' with Ron DiIulio of the University of North Texas

2012-06-04 by

One of the most pressing challenges facing seventeenth-century astronomy was the determination of earth’s distance to the sun. Initially, scientists were pessimistic that they would ever be able to calculate this distance. Then, the winter of 1631 created a glimmer of hope when both Mercury and Venus transited the sun providing observational data that would result in quantitative proof of the earth’s distance from the sun – the Astronomical Unit.

Planetarium and Astronomy Program Director at the University of North Texas Ron DiIolio connects the dots from astronomer Edmond Halley (of the Comet) to explorer James Cook (of the Inlet) to the 1769 transit of Venus.

Ron has been appointed as one of about 200 NASA Solar System Ambassadors from around the world, charged with the responsibility of sharing and interpreting NASA developments. His works and publications include several award-winning video documentaries that have shown on PBS, including “Dark Noon”, a video taken during the great solar eclipse of 1979.

He is visiting Anchorage in order to observe and record the upcoming June 5th Venus Transit and — by combining measurements with his colleagues in Hawaii — to recreate Halley’s method for calculating the distance to the Sun.

This podcast was recorded June 1, 2012 at the UAA Planetarium. The Transit of Venus occurred June 5, 2012 between 2:06-8:47 p.m. visible from Alaska and Hawaii.

Find this talk presented with DiIulio’s Powerpoint slides at the UAA YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_GP7JPSMyY&list=UU08uAzWmaBxMcYPAYRV6zKA&index=1&feature=plpp_video.

Download MP3 (60:31min, 55MB)

For More Information:

Director Ron DiIulio
Sky Theater at University of North Texas website
Ron DiIulio
Bio page, University of North Texas
Transit of Venus.org
Educational website, 4-minute summary of Venus Transit
UAA Planetarium
Transit of Venus events at UAA
UAA You Tube Channel
Ron DiIlulio talk with slides.