On Tuesday, June 5, the planet Venus will pass across the face of the sun, a rare event that will only be visible in its entirety in the western Pacific Ocean regions. During the transit, observers will see a small dot, Venus’ silhouette, move across the disk of the sun. This alignment of the Earth, Venus and the sun happened in 2004, but will not occur again until 2117.
The public is invited to view the event at the Missouri University of Science and Technology Observatory. The observatory will be open from 4:45 p.m. until sunset that Tuesday, June 5. If the sky is clear, Venus will become visible on the disk of the sun in Rolla at approximately 5:05 p.m. and will be visible until sunset.
For this event, an 80-mm telescope with a solar filter will be mounted on the observatory’s 16-inch telescope. This telescope produces an image of the entire sun and, when combined with the solar filter, allows an observer to safely look at the sun. “Safety is extremely important when viewing the sun — looking at the sun without the correct equipment, for example, a good solar filter, may result in severe damage and loss of vision to your eyes,” says Dr. John L. Schmitt, associate professor of physics at Missouri S&T.
Visitors should note that the sky must be clear for observing. In addition, the western horizon as seen at the observatory has trees and structures that may block the sun for short periods of time during Venus’ transit.
The viewing session is free to the public and no reservations are required. Children are welcome to attend but must be accompanied by an adult.
The Missouri S&T Observatory is located at 1550 N. Bishop Ave. (Highway 63 North), adjacent to the university’s Stonehenge replica, north of V.H. McNutt Hall and west of St. Patrick’s Lane. For more information contact Schmitt at 573-341-4369 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.