News‎ > ‎

Morris Museum open to watch planet's journey

posted Jun 6, 2012, 5:10 AM by Anthony Pisano   [ updated Jun 6, 2012, 9:34 AM ]
A file picture taken on June 8, 2004, shows the planet Venus transiting in front of the sun. The next alignment of Earth, Venus and the sun — known as the transit of Venus — happens tonight. The Morris Museum is one of several locations open statewide where stargazers can watch the celestial journey.
A file picture taken on June 8, 2004, shows the planet Venus transiting in front of the sun. The next alignment of Earth, Venus and the sun — known as the transit of Venus — happens tonight. The Morris Museum is one of several locations open statewide where stargazers can watch the celestial journey. / AFP/Getty Images

The planet Venus today will perform a rare and historic act. As the sun prepares to set behind the western horizon at 6:04 p.m., Venus will begin to cross the sun’s disc.

Millions of people around the world are preparing to watch the transit of Venus, as it is called, using everything from naked eyes and binoculars to the best telescopes they can lay their hands on. Even the venerable Hubble Space Telescope is planning to watch it in its own special way, as the next transit of Venus is more than a human lifespan away in 2117.

There have only been six transits of Venus in recorded history. Sightings usually occur in pairs every eight years followed by a gap of more than a century for the next pair. The last one was in 2004 and the one before was in 1882.

A transit of Venus is an eclipse of the sun by Venus. Total or partial eclipses of the sun by the moon occur more frequently. While Venus is much larger than the moon, it is much farther away so the planet will appear like a bullet hole trekking across the disc of the sun.

The transits of Venus provide an interesting backdrop to step back and take look at the progress of human civilization. The last pair of Venus transits was in 1874 and 1882 — close to when the electric bulb was invented. At the previous pair of transits in 1761 and 1769, the Earth was still being explored and mapped.

Today, we are a space-faring civilization. One can only wonder about the reaches of our civilization when Venus returns for its next transit in 2117.
Once in a lifetime

For today’s scientists grappling with methods of discovering planets around other stars and studying the presence and composition of their atmospheres, today’s transit is a one of a kind opportunity to hone their tools and techniques. For the rest of us millions this is the last chance in our lifetimes to behold an 
event that once held the keys to the universe and partake in the voyages of the explorers, right from our backyards.

The transit is of duration six hours and 48 minutes, starting at about 6:04 p.m. Those in the New Jersey area will be able to see the transit for about two hours and 20 minutes when the sun will set behind the horizon. The planet Venus today will perform a rare and historic act. As the sun prepares to set behind the western horizon at 6:04 p.m., Venus will begin to cross the sun’s disc.

Millions of people around the world are preparing to watch the transit of Venus, as it is called, using everything from naked eyes and binoculars to the best telescopes they can lay their hands on. Even the venerable Hubble Space Telescope is planning to watch it in its own special way, as the next transit of Venus is more than a human lifespan away in 2117.

There have only been six transits of Venus in recorded history. Sightings usually occur in pairs every eight years followed by a gap of more than a century for the next pair. The last one was in 2004 and the one before was in 1882.

A transit of Venus is an eclipse of the sun by Venus. Total or partial eclipses of the sun by the moon occur more frequently. While Venus is much larger than the moon, it is much farther away so the planet will appear like a bullet hole trekking across the disc of the sun.

The transits of Venus provide an interesting backdrop to step back and take look at the progress of human civilization. The last pair of Venus transits was in 1874 and 1882 — close to when the electric bulb was invented. At the previous pair of transits in 1761 and 1769, the Earth was still being explored and mapped.

Today, we are a space-faring civilization. One can only wonder about the reaches of our civilization when Venus returns for its next transit in 2117.
Once in a lifetime

For today’s scientists grappling with methods of discovering planets around other stars and studying the presence and composition of their atmospheres, today’s transit is a one of a kind opportunity to hone their tools and techniques. For the rest of us millions this is the last chance in our lifetimes to behold an event that once held the keys to the universe and partake in the voyages of the explorers, right from our backyards.


The transit is of duration six hours and 48 minutes, starting at about 6:04 p.m. Those in the New Jersey area will be able to see the transit for about two hours and 20 minutes when the sun will set behind the horizon

The disk of the planet Venus is visible against the face of the sun as it approaches its exit point of the transit across the sun during the 2004 Transit. Photo taken in Stanhope.

Where to view the transit of Venus

• Members of the Morris Museum Astronomical Society will be on hand at the Morris Museum from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. to explain the transit and to provide safe means of viewing. Information: kkrish@gmail.com; 973-971-3700; www.morrismuseum.org. 
• The Sheep Hill Astronomical Association is hosting a viewing at the Route 80 overlook off eastbound lanes at Exit 19. Information: wwestura@optonline.net 
• Amateur Astronomers Inc. will observe the transit at Sandy Hook National Recreation Area in Highlands. Information: hfjacinto69@gmail.com. 
• The United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey will host a viewing starting at 5 p.m. at Jenny Jump Observatory. Solar telescopes will be set up for the public or, if there is inclement weather, the observatory will show a live stream of the transit from Hawaii. Information: reddog176@gmail.com. 
For more viewings, visit www.uacnj.org.
The disk of the planet Venus is visible against the face of the sun as it approaches its exit point of the transit across the sun during the 2004 Transit. Photo taken in Stanhope. / Courtesy of Warren Westura
Comments