Rare chance to see the Transit of Venus

w042420c pic DJ'Volenteers from the Whitby and Scarborough Astronomical Societies aid the public to observe the Transit of Venus at Dock End. Mark Dawson projects the sun onto a viewing board
w042420c pic DJ'Volenteers from the Whitby and Scarborough Astronomical Societies aid the public to observe the Transit of Venus at Dock End. Mark Dawson projects the sun onto a viewing board

AN exciting global astronomical event is on its way – the transit of Venus 2012.

A rare phenomenon where one astronomical body appears to pass in front of another, the planet Venus will visibly cross the disk of the Sun.

Transits are very rare, occurring only twice every hundred years.

In 1768, Captain James Cook, a talented astronomer as well as a skilled seaman, made an epic voyage to the exotic island of Tahiti in order to observe a transit of Venus.

This was one of the most expensive voyages Britain had ever commissioned, but the observations allowed scientists to accurately calculate the size of the solar system for the first time.

Wednesday 6 June will be the last chance in our lifetime to witness a transit of Venus – the next one will take place in 2117.

The Captain Cook Memorial Museum begins the count-down to the transit and has teamed up with the Whitby and District Astronomical Society to present three days of Venus-themed activities and star parties to remember – complete with telescopes, solar-viewing demonstrations and special planetarium shows.

Looking at the Sun with the naked eye can be dangerous so the WDAS will advise how you can safely view the event.

There will also be a display of original Cook material relating to the 1769 transit. Activities will kick-off at the museum in Grape Lane from 1pm on Sunday 3, 11am Monday 4 and 11am Tuesday 5.

The transit itself will take place from sunrise, approx 4.30am, on 6 June (viewing on the West Cliff).

This is a must for astronomical enthusiasts young and old.

For more information call the museum on (01947) 601900 or the astronomical society on (01947) 605516.