June 06, 2012
Physics professor Charles Schulz sets up telescope for public viewing of the June 5, 2012 transit of Venus; superimposed on a photo of the transit taken with the telescope.
Several dozen visitors wandered to the middle of Knox College's softball field on Tuesday, June 5, 2012 to take advantage of a public viewing of a rare astronomical event, the planet Venus crossing the face of an early evening sun -- known as a "transit." Transits of Venus occur in pairs -- the most recent was in June 2004, the earlier pair were in 1874 and 1882; the next pair will occur in 2117 and 2125.
"The transit of Venus is of historical interest because, in 1639, it allowed, for the first time an accurate determination of the distance scale of our solar system," Schulz said. "Study of the transit also has provided insight into the atmosphere of Venus, and this year's transit will provide a test of techniques to be used in studying exoplanets."
A line of viewers were able to see the image of Venus as the planet passed in front of the sun, as well as sunspots on the sun's surface, both directly and on a camera screen.
|Above, physics professor Charles Schulz sets up telescope for viewing of the transit of Venus on June 5, 2012; below, biology professor Stuart Allison and his daughter (left) and Galesburg resident Bill Butts (right) view the transit.