Rare astronomical treat for school students

School groups visiting Monash will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view the transit of Venus when the planet crosses the path of the Sun next week. Taking place on Wednesday...

School groups visiting Monash will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view the transit of Venus when the planet crosses the path of the Sun next week.

Taking place on Wednesday 6 June, he transit of Venus is extremely rare, with the next occurrence not due until December 2117.

Hosted by the Monash Centre for Astrophysics, the Monash Science Centre and the In2science program, primary and secondary students will listen to a presentation on the history of transit observations and enjoy live video feeds from other parts of the world at the Clayton campus.

Staff, students and passers-by are also encouraged to seize their chance to view the rare alignment, beginning just after 8am AEST.

ARC Future Fellow in the School of Physics, Dr Duncan Galloway, said that 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 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.

For more information on how to safely observe the transit of Venus visit the Monash Centre for Astrophysics website or view the Astronomical Society of Australia factsheet.

Note: It is extremely dangerous to look directly at the Sun, especially through binoculars or telescopes. Serious eye damage may result.