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Rare astronomical treat for school students

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30 May 2012

The next transit of Venus is not due to occur for another 106 years
The next transit of Venus is not due to occur for another 106 years

School students will have the chance of a lifetime to witness the transit of Venus when the planet crosses the path of the Sun next week.

The transit of Venus is extremely rare, with the next not due to occur until the beginning of December 2117.

Visiting primary and secondary students will see the planet slowly make its way across the Sun next Wednesday 6 June when they undertake a workshop of transit-related activities at Monash University’s Clayton campus.

Hosted by the Monash Centre for Astrophysics, the Monash Science Centre and the In2science program, the students will listen to a presentation on the history of transit observations, enjoy live video feeds from other parts of the world and hear from academic leaders in the field.

Australian Research Council Future Fellow, Dr Duncan Galloway, from the School of Physics, said the timing of the transit was ideal for east coast residents.

“Weather permitting, the entire passage will be visible, from beginning to end," Dr Galloway said.

The transit of Venus occurs when the planet passes directly in front of the Sun. Venus will appear as a dark silhouette, moving gradually across the Sun’s disc. The event will last until 2.45pm.

“Transits of Venus are rare and with the next due in 105 years, I expect this will be the last chance for most of us to see one," Dr Galloway said.

Transits of Venus are particularly relevant to Australia. Captain Cook's 1770 landing in Australia followed a successful attempt to observe the 1769 transit from Tahiti.

The observance of the Transit by participating schools will take place at Monash University, Clayton, 9am –1pm, Wednesday 6 June.

For more information on how to safely observe the transit of Venus visit the Monash Centre for Astrophysics website.

Warning: It is very dangerous to look directly at the Sun, especially through binoculars or telescopes. SERIOUS EYE DAMAGE MAY RESULT.