MONTREAL, May 28, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - The Montréal Planetarium (part of the Montréal Space for Life), the Centre de recherche en astrophysique du Québec (Université de Montréal and McGill University), the Société d'astronomie du Planétarium de Montréal (SAPM), the Fédération des astronomes amateurs du Québec and Rio Tinto Alcan invite the public to turn their gaze skyward and enjoy a unique phenomenon: the transit of Venus.
The event will be held on June 5:
The terrace on the top floor of the Louis-Colin garage at the Université de Montréal
Next to the Roger Gaudry building (main University building)
5255, avenue Louis-Colin
Université de Montréal metro station
From 5 p.m. to sunset
Amateur and professional astronomers will be on hand to offer detailed explanations of the phenomenon as it happens. Above all, though, they want to share this unique experience with the public. They'll be happy to share tips, binoculars and telescopes - which must be equipped with a filter specially designed for looking at the Sun - for observing the transit of Venus.
A few precautions
It's always important to be very cautious when looking directly at the sun, with the naked eye or through optical instruments. It is safe to do so, however, if you place a filter between your eyes and the Sun. There are two options: No. 14 welder's glasses, sold in hardware stores, or filters specially designed and certified for observing the Sun, which you can find in astronomy boutiques.
Last meet-up for 105 years
Venus passes between the Sun and the Earth every 584 days, but most of the time it cannot be seen since its trajectory takes it far above or below the Sun. On very rare occasions, the planets are aligned in such a way that it moves directly across the solar disk, and we can see its black shadow travelling across the bright background of the Sun.
A bit of history
The transit of Venus is a very important scientific event. In 1716, astronomer Edmund Halley — for whom the famous comet is named — suggested that astronomers observe Venus' transits in front of the Sun to help them measure the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Later in the 18th and 19th centuries, expeditions were sent out around the globe to observe the event. But since Venus does not give up her secrets easily, it was difficult to take precise measurements. Today scientists use radar echoes to measure distances between the planets, and people are interested in the transit of Venus mostly because it is such a rare occurrence.
The transit of Venus on Twitter
Since an event like this is sure to generate lots of interest, you can follow the phenomenon as it happens on Twitter. A Planetarium staff member will lead the discussion and answer questions from the public. (#venustransit)
To celebrate the transit of Venus, the Planetarium and its partners are organizing a province-wide contest! Regional winners will get a trip to the Biodôme, Insectarium and Botanical Garden, along with a night's stay for a family at the Hôtel Universel, with breakfast included. In addition to these prizes, the grand prize winner will be taken on a private tour of the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium construction site guided by one of the Planetarium's astronomers. Entry forms will be available on the Web on June 5. All you have to do is mention the clue that will be given out at the event site between 5 p.m. and sunset.
For the complete list of regional activities, a description and the history of this exceptional phenomenon, and details on the contest and prizes, see passagedevenus.ca.
For further information:
Nadine Fortin, Communications Co-ordinator
Anik Robichaud-Gauvin, Marketing Representative