It's now - or never!
Tuesday, June 5 | 4:30 - 9:00 | Traverwood Branch & Leslie Park
If you're old enough to read this, then June 5 is your last chance to see one of the most rare predictable celestial events - and the astronomical highlight of 2012 - the Transit of Venus. It's only happened four times in the past 234 years and the next Transit is 105 years from now in December 2117.
The Transit of Venus - when the planet is visible as a black dot crossing the disk of the sun - will last 6.5 hours in total, and we'll catch three of those in Michigan, from 6:04 p.m. until sunset at 9:08 p.m. And since you can't look at the sun directly (please don't!), the Library will be giving out FREE SOLAR SHADES for safe viewing at AADL's Traverwood branch following a brief talk by the University Lowbrow Astronomers at 4:30.
Since the diameter of Venus is near the limit of the eye's capability, we also recommend you follow us after the talk to one of several locations where local astronomy groups will be stationed with telescopes properly fitted with solar filters for magnified viewing:
The Lowbrows will have telescopes at Leslie Park (map), and the corner of Washington and Ashley streets (map). The UM Department of Astronomy will offer public viewing on top of Angell Hall and the Detroit Observatory will have telescopes out on their sidewalk (map). (Note: Viewings will be cancelled if the weather completely obscures the sun, in which case the Library will provide a live video feed of the Transit from sure-to-be cloudless Hawaii in the Traverwood program room.)
The best part is the moment of ingress exterior, when Venus first touches the outer edge of the sun at 6:04, so make your way to one of the viewing locations early. Until then, we have a couple recent books on the history and science of the Venusian transit, Chasing Venus and The Transits of Venus. Just think, in 1769 Captain James Cook sailed halfway around the world to see the Transit of Venus...and all YOU need to do is stop by the corner of Ashley and Washington!
(Remember: Never point your telescope at the Sun! Viewing the Transit requires proper solar filters that are not available on the Library's circulating telescopes. You will damage your eyes and the telescopes!)