CSIRO to webcast rare astronomical event

06/04/04

On the afternoon of 8 June 2004, one of the rarest celestial events will occur – a transit of Venus across the Sun

On the afternoon of 8 June 2004, one of the rarest celestial events will occur – a transit of Venus across the Sun. It will be the first time since 1882 that this has occurred.

To help people in Australia, and around the world, view the event safely, CSIRO and Telstra will be hosting a webcast of the transit live from Canberra.

"Observers will be able to 'see' the transit begin in the mid-afternoon," says Darren Osborne of CSIRO's Double Helix Science Club. "Hopefully, we may see the famous 'black-drop' effect that was observed more than a century ago."

During the transit, the disc of Venus will appear to move across the face of the Sun. The full transit of Venus across the disc of the Sun will not be visible from Australia, but amateur astronomers are still looking forward to this unique event.

Mr Osborne explains that a transit is not as spectacular or as 'science-worthy' as a total solar eclipse, but it is still expected to capture the public's imagination.

"It is the first time in more than 120 years that this has occurred – no one alive today has ever seen this event. The transit of Venus is also special to Australians because it was the initial reason Lieutenant James Cook travelled to the South Pacific," says Mr Osborne.

In 1769, Cook observed the transit of Venus from Tahiti before he opened a new set of orders that directed him to chart the east coast of Australia.

Visitors to the Transit of Venus website (available at http://www.transit.csiro.au ) will have access to the only live video feed from Australia. They will also find information on the history of transits of Venus, as well as demonstrating safe techniques for observing this event. Additional material on the website highlights the role CSIRO plays in astronomy, and the chance for visitors to contribute their own photos and stories from the event.

The webcast will begin at 2:50 pm (Eastern Australian Time), and be available at different speeds to optimise the quality for dial-up and broadband users. It will be accessible via Windows Media Player and Real Media Player, and will be archived so people can view the transit after the event.

The Transit of Venus webcast is supported by CSIRO and Telstra.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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