UA to Observe Transit of Venus on June 5

Events are planned throughout Tucson to view the Transit of Venus, in which Venus will travel across the face of the sun.
June 1, 2012
(Click image to enlarge) The Transit of Venus. (Photo credit: NASA)
(Click image to enlarge) The Transit of Venus. (Photo credit: NASA)
Biosphere 2
Biosphere 2
Tumamoc Hill (Photo by Norma Jean Gargasz/UANews)
Tumamoc Hill (Photo by Norma Jean Gargasz/UANews)
Extra Info: 

The UA Steward Observatory's Mount Lemmon SkyCenter will provide a live stream of the Transit of Venus on the web. The stream will begin at 2 p.m. Venus will start traveling across the face of the sun at 3:06 p.m. MST. 

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On June 5, join the University of Arizona and organizations across Tucson for a rare opportunity to witness Venus crossing directly between the Earth and the sun.

The darkened disk of Venus will glide over the face of the sun from about 3 p.m. until sunset. At several locations in Tucson, astronomers will set up special equipment to let the public safely watch this once-in-a-century celestial event.

The events are free and open to the public and will include telescopes to safely observe the sun, activities for kids and talks by astronomers about the significance of the Transit of Venus.

Transits help determine our place in the cosmos. Historically, astronomical expeditions observed and timed transits and used the information to measure the size of the solar system. Now astronomers use transits to seek out Earth-like planets around other stars.

This will be the last time in the 21st century to see Venus travel across the face of the sun. The next transit will occur in 2117 – more than 100 years from now. 

Safety note: It is never safe to look directly at the sun. The only way to see the Transit of Venus safely is to use special equipment.

Venues offering viewing events that are still open to the public include:

UA Science: Biosphere 2: 32540 S. Biosphere Road. The turn-off is located on Arizona Highway 77 between Oracle Junction and Oracle at milepost 96.5.

Join astronomers at the UA Biosphere 2 from 3-6 p.m. to enjoy live telescope viewing of the transit along with presentations about the importance of the event. This event is free and open to the public and is supported by the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association and the UA College of Science.

Click here to view a map to Biosphere 2.

UA Science: Tumamoc: Tumamoc Hill, 1675 W. Anklam Road, Tucson

On Tumamoc Hill, visitors can view the transit through solar telescopes starting at 5 p.m. and ending at sunset. There also will be other outdoor astronomy-related activities. At 6 p.m., cultural astronomer Jarita Holbrook of UA Steward Observatory will give a talk on the relationship between humans and the sky. This event is supported by the UA College of Science, UA Science: Tumamoc and UA Science: Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter.

Visitors are welcome to walk up Tumamoc Hill, but private cars are not allowed on Tumamoc Hill Road. The free shuttle service up the hill can accommodate a maximum of 20 people on a first-come, first-served basis and starts at 5 p.m. The shuttle stop is on Tumamoc Hill Road just past the gate. The shuttle will begin taking visitors down the hill at 7 p.m.  

UA Mall: 1601 E. University Blvd. (at the intersection of Cherry Street and the UA Mall)

Join us on the east end of the UA Mall from 3-8 p.m. to celebrate this spectacular event. Safe telescope viewing of the transit will begin at 3 p.m. Events inside the UA Science: Flandrau and Gerard P. Kuiper Space Sciences buildings include activities for kids and families, live video feeds of the transit from observatories all over the world, and presentations by Planetary Science Institute Senior Education Specialist Larry Lebofsky

Additional night sky viewing through telescopes will be available from after sundown. This event is supported by staff and volunteers from the UA College of Science, the Planetary Science Institute, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona and the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association.

Loews Ventana Canyon Resort: 7000 N. Resort Drive, Tucson, Ariz.

Guided by astronomy professionals, from 3-5:30 p.m. people can look at the sun through specialized H-alpha telescopes. The event also will include live video feeds from NASA and the UA Science: Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, lectures from UA cultural astronomer Richard Poss and Planetary Science Institute's astronomer and children's author Steve Kortenkamp and complimentary solar-filter viewing cards for safe naked-eye viewing. The event will be followed by a Transit of Venus happy hour in the Cascade lounge at 5:30 p.m., featuring Chasing Venus sauvignon blanc.