Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Last Transit Of Venus Of This Century To Be Broadcast Live Over The Internet

The European project GLORIA providing the resources to broadcast this astronomical spectacle

The European-funded GLORIA (GLObal Robotic-telescopes Intelligent Array) project, coordinated by the Ciclope Group based at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid's Facultad de Informática is to broadcast the transit of Venus across the Sun live over the Internet on 5 to 6 June 2012. The transit will be broadcast from the GLORIA project website and the video will embeddable in any portal. It will also be possible to share photos and educational activities for students.

Transit of Venus 2004
Credit: ESa

The GLORIA project has organized several expeditions to observe the event with solar telescopes and digital cameras. Videos and images of the transit will be broadcast live over the Internet (in collaboration with the portal) from Australia, Japan and Norway to give everyone the chance to witness the last transit of Venus for the next 105 years. The participants in the expeditions will provide live commentaries in Spanish and English throughout the broadcasts.

Midnight on 5 to 6 June 2012

Just after midnight (Madrid Time) on the 5 to 6 June, the planet Venus, as seen from the Earth, will embark on a journey across the solar disk that will take just over six hours.

The spectacle will only be visible from the daylight hemisphere, that is, the part of the planet where the Sun is above the horizon during the transit. The eastern coast of Australia is one of the best places from which to observe the event.

The phenomenon will not be visible in its entirety from Spanish territory; only the end of the transit will be observable at sunrise on 6 June from the northern Mediterranean coast and the Balearic Islands.


This phenomenon, which is called astronomical transit, takes place when the Sun, the planet (only the transits of the internal planets, Mercury and Venus, are visible from the Earth) and the Earth are aligned in this order so that the planet obscures a region of the Sun.

The Sun, Venus and the Earth are seldom aligned, because the orbits of the Earth and Venus around the Sun are slightly inclined with respect to each other. Pairs of transits of Venus (eight years apart) occur with a regular pattern of 121.5 and 105.5 years between consecutive pairs.

The last transit took place in 2004, and, after this year's, there will not be another until 2117. Venus has crossed the solar disk only seven times since the telescope was invented.

Gloria with Venus

GLORIA is an innovative and ambitious citizen science project led by the Ciclope Group based at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid's Facultad de Informática with 13 partners from eight countries that will give open and free access to a network of robotic telescopes via a Web interface.

GLORIA partners include the Instituto Astrofísico de Canarias with its Open Outreach Telescope, a set of robotic telescopes located at the Teide Observatory on Tenerife, the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), as scientific coordinator, and the Universidad de Málaga, as partner responsible for robotic telescope standardization, including the UPM's robotic telescope based at the Facultad de Informática.

The transit of Venus is the first of a series of live broadcasts of astronomical events that the GLORIA project will offer to promote citizen astronomy and science among the general public. Educational activities have been designed as part of the project to promote secondary school student involvement.

The proposal for the transit of Venus is for students to determine the distance between the Earth and the Sun using images of the transit captured by GLORIA's team of astronomers. It was precisely thanks to the observations of other transits of Venus in the 18th century that the astronomers of the time were first able to estimate this distance and the size of the Solar System.

There will be three live connections, each lasting a total of 70 minutes and coinciding with the high points of the phenomenon:

Connection 1: Venus entering the solar disk - 5 June 22.04-22.34 UT (00.04-00.34 Madrid).

Connection 2: Transit halfway point - 6 June 01.25-1.35 UT (3.25-3.35 Madrid).

Connection 3: Venus leaving the solar disk - 6 June 4.26-4.56 UT (6.26-6.56 Madrid).

Regular update

As of 22.00 UT (00.00 Madrid time) on 5 June, the image of the Sun (and Venus) will be refreshed every five minutes from the three observation points to update the portal. All the captured images will be immediately available for use in educational activities.

GLORIA will organize another activity for people from all over the world to submit and share their pictures of the transit, not only of the astronomical event but also of each other, turning their cameras towards the Earth to capture that moment of their lives, at home with their loved ones, going about their favourite pursuits, doing their jobs, etc.

This will be the only chance that many people on the planet will have to see a transit of Venus, and the idea is to send a photographic message to the future. What story do we want to tell the people who will witness the next transit in 105 years' time? What was happening in the world on 5-6 June 2012 below the celestial spectacle?

Contacts and sources:
Facultad de Informática de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

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