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W-B professor to view Venus transit

Dr. Timothy Lawlor in the campus Observatory
5/26/2004 —

Penn State Wilkes-Barre assistant professor of physics and astronomy, Timothy Lawlor, Ph.D., will join colleagues from the University of North Dakota in New Delhi, India, to witness the rare transit of Venus which will occur on June 8, 2004. This event has not been seen since the last transits occurred in 1882 and 1874.

According to the Venus Transit 2004 India Expedition web site, a transit of Venus is one of the rarest of planetary alignments. This phenomenon occurs when Venus passes directly in front of the sun (similar to a solar eclipse). Unlike the solar eclipse, however, where the moon passes across and covers much of the sun, Venus appears as a small dot moving across its face. Only Mercury and Venus, planets between the earth and the sun, can transit and there have been only six Venus transits since the invention of the telescope.

“We are traveling to New Delhi to view the transit because it will be more than two thirds over when the sun rises in the eastern United States,” said Dr. Lawlor. “In India, the transit will be visible from ingress to egress. We also have contacts in Delhi that will allow us the use of their Internet.  We will be webcasting the observations live from Delhi and we will be posting images on the Goddard Space Flight Center's web site.” The next transit will occur on June 6, 2012, followed by transits in 2117 and 2125. The Wilkes-Barre campus Friedman Observatory will be open at sunrise on June 8 to view and photograph the transit. 

For more information, call 570-675-9149 or visit www.wb.psu.edu/observatory and click on Venus Transit. You may also view the images on the Goddard Space Flight Center's web site:  http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/sunearthday/2004/vt_observe_2004.htm

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