Current status: partially cloudy
Current Aurora status: This is stupid. I’m going to bed.
Current CT status: Partially Cloudy
Current Aurora status: ACTIVE IN CANADA! ACTIVE IN CANADA!*
quiet in Connecticut.
*also active in Northern Russia.
Current status: Clear
Current Aurora Status: Still Quiet
Current status: Cloudy
Current Aurora Status: Quiet
Current status: Cloudy
Current Aurora status: Quiet
The Transit is coming!
Tomorrow Venus will crawl across the sun for the second and last time of our lives (presuming no unexpected crazy new enhanced cyborg life lengths or planet/sun-moving thrusters are in our futures (fingers remained crossed)). After tomorrow, the next transit will be in 2117. So get your solar glasses and pinhole cameras ready!
Why is this such a rare event?
Venus rotation isn’t exactly in the same plane as the Earth’s. While Venus and the Earth roughly align about once every 19 or 20 months, our celestial neighbor usually just flirts with the edges of the sun – preventing sweet shadowy solar crossings.
BUT NOT TOMORROW!
Tomorrow we get the full Venus silhouette!
Why is this a big deal?
It’s mostly cool factor and some sweet history. From its first observance in 1639 through its pass in 1882, scientists used Venus and parallax geometry to approximate out how far we were from the sun. Neat! Their endeavors included sending out teams to different locations on the planet to time the pass of Venus across the sun. The global teams then returned and refined their numbers again and again – all the while learning more about our extraterrestrial surroundings.
Wait… what about Mercury? Wouldn’t that happen way more frequently?
Actually, yes. It does. Mercury transits more often than Venus. The next one is in 2016 then 2019 then 2032 – it’s just not as cool because Mercury is so tiny.
I’m going to be trying to take some pictures of the Venus’ transit tomorrow. Unfortuantely, potential is looking grim.
Anyone interested in heading down to Florida on April 19th with me to watch the Space Shuttle launch.
1. It may be postponed and thus, a complete waste of money.
2. Flights are crazy expensive.
3. This is one of the last few flights for the space shuttle, so it’ll probably be absurdly mobbed.
Leave a message in the comments!
All the excitement without the hype: Phil Plait on Gliese 581g.