The Venus Transit 2004
... How to Prepare Yourself for the Day of the Transit (full text)!
This page contains useful advice for anybody who is not a professional or amateur astronomer and who wants to partake in the unique celestial event on June 8, 2004, when Venus passes in front of the Sun, for the first time in 122 years!
Take a moment to read the step-by-step join-the-transit explanations, with plenty of ideas and suggestions for how to get the most of this occasion!
To begin with, here are some of the related issues and topics you might want to consider, with links to the corresponding pages:
- Beginning now...
- Where will you be on June 8?
- Where is the transit visible?
- Your own observations?
- Join the Video Contest?
- At the school
- Ten days before...
- Media reports!
- Related public events in your area?
- Want to know more?
- A few days before...
- The weather!
- The VT-2004 Central Display goes active
- All prepared for the observations?
- The DAY OF THE TRANSIT!
- Millions of people!
- Measuring the distance to the Sun!
- Your photos and drawings!
- The next chance
For your convenience, the complete text is available on this page.
To start with...NOW!
Here are some first issues and topics to think about.
Where will you be on June 8?
It is already high time to consider what you intend to do on the "DAY OF THE TRANSIT" . Will you be at work, in your office or outside in fresh air, with an unobstructed view of the sky in the direction of the Sun? Will you have access to an internet connection, or will you have a TV-set or a radio within reach? Will you be alone or in a group of other people, with your family or with your friends?
Are you already off to a well-deserved holiday, away from your home town? Indeed, at which geographical location will you be? How much time do you expect to spend on this, a few minutes or several hours?
Where is the transit visible?
In any case, don't forget to check on WHETHER AND WHEN THE VENUS TRANSIT WILL BE VISIBLE FROM WHERE YOU ARE ON JUNE 8. For this, you may consult the geographical map with the ZONE OF VISIBILITY that is included in Brief InfoSheet B1. Moreover, the EXACT TIMES OF THE TRANSIT AS SEEN FROM VARIOUS CITIES are available in this table. Don't forget that those times are listed in Universal Time (UT) and must be corrected to get your Local Time (add 2 hours to UT to get Central European Summer Time, which is applicable in most European countries on that date).
Your own observations?
Have you thought of making your OWN OBSERVATIONS, acccording to the easy-to-follow prescriptions given at this website?
If you plan to watch the transit in the sky, read the SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS and do not forget to procure OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED PROTECTIVE GLASSES for yourself (and your family and/or friends)! Your local optician may help you and so may the amateur astronomer group (or planetarium or science center) in your area.
Did you consider participating in the VT-2004 Observing Campaign? It is still time to register!
Join the Video Contest?
Did you consider to join the VT-2004 VIDEO COMPETITION? Would you like to enter the final round, travel to Paris in early November 2004 and perhaps win one of the attractive prizes? Then you better start now - the deadline for delivery of your entry is September 15, 2004.
At the school
Will you be at school - has the teacher made arrangements for your class to watch the transit on June 8? There is still time (barely, though) to do this and have a great school event. Look at the page for Students and Teachers - the Teachers' Guide (Word) may come in handy now.
Ten days before..... (around May 27, 2004)
As the transit is approaching, there is more to be considered.
At this time you will surely hear MORE ABOUT THE VENUS TRANSIT IN THE MEDIA. An efficient way to scan the printed English-language press is by means of a WEB-SEARCH over the Google News service on "Venus Transit". Setting a few switches differently, you can scan the news media of other languages.
Related public events in your area?
It may also be useful to CONSULT THE WEBPAGES OF THE VT-2004 NODE IN YOUR AREA (COUNTRY). There will probably be indications about the places where public showings will take place, at some professional observatories or by amateur groups. You may also check the list of VT-2004 Network Members - many organisations (clubs, associations) have their own webpages about the Venus Transit with information about their plans for local public showings.
Want to know more?
Have a look at the VT-2004 WEBSITE! It contains a lot of INTERESTING INFORMATION around the Venus Transit. In addition to the details about the event itself, you will find reference to, among others, Planet Venus, Our Central Star, Historical Transit Expeditions, Venusian Mythology, Science Fiction, more philolosophical issues like "What is Time?" and, not least, the way astronomers determine Distances in the Universe, based on the distance from the Earth to the Sun (which can be measured by means of observations of a Venus transit).
A few days before...(around June 4, 2004)
Time is getting short now - here are some of the last preparations you need...
The VT-2004 Central Display goes active
Now the VT-2004 CENTRAL DISPLAY will become much more active, with frequently UPDATED REPORTS about the preparations, the prospects at the sites of the various professional telescopes, etc. The dissemination system with hundreds of AKAMAI mirror websites, specifically set up to handle the expected, large load on the VT-2004 website, will be activitated.
How will be the WEATHER be on June 8th? Current meteorological forecasts are reasonably good at the regional level for some days, in some cases up to one week in advance. Services are provided by some of the large news providers and, of course, by the national meteorological services. Here are some useful links:
- BBC - global and local predictions
- CNN - global and local predictions
- Deutsche Wetter Dienst (DWD) international links - comprehensive list of links to the websites of most national weather services in the corresponding language(s) (and often also in English)
- Public Meteosat images - frequently updated (West Cheshire College, UK)
- More Meteosat images - registration needed (free) (Dundee Satellite Receiving Station)
- EUMETSAT artificially coloured satellite imagery
- European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts - to learn more about weather forecasting
All prepared for the observations?
In case you intend to perform observations, don't forget to CHECK YOUR EQUIPMENT. And if you participate in the VT-2004 Observing Campaign, it may be useful to make a general rehearsal, with the observers present. There will be little time on June 8 to repair faulty equipment and to change the timing procedures!
The Day of the Transit... (June 8, 2004) !
Finally, after a wait of 122 years, THE GREAT DAY HAS COME! You are at the location of your choice, at a sunny site (hopefully!) or in front of a TV- or internet monitor. In some places, you must get up quite early to catch the first phases of the transit, as the disc of Venus "takes the first bite" of the Sun and soon begins its journey across the solar limb.
Millions of people!
You will not be alone - although predictions are impossible for this first event of its kind in the age of global communication, there will surely be hundreds of millions, perhaps even 1 billion people all over the world joining you for this unique experience. Many of them will see it with their own eyes (remember the SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS!), others will watch the TV-programmes with reports from various sites in the zone of visibility, stretching from Eastern Canada (the last phases of the transit are visible there in the early morning, right after sunrise) to New Zealand (the first phases are visible right at sunset). And many others will profit from access to the web, which will carry (near-)real-time images from the world's leading observatories, on the ground and in space.
What will you feel? What will you see? When will you first perceive the black disc of Venus at the edge of the Sun? Will Venus pass near a major group of sunspots? How will this display look like when captured by telescopes in different colours? Will there be solar eruptions, huge fountains of mostly hydrogen that reaches tens of thousands of kilometers above the solar "surface"?
Measuring the distance to the Sun!
There will be an added, unique and highly experimental feature at the VT-2004 CENTRAL DISPLAY. Hundreds of observers on all continents (except Antartica where the transit is not well visible anyhow) who have registered with the VT-2004 OBSERVING CAMPAIGN, will attempt to do accurate timings of the moments when Venus passes the solar limb. They will send their observations while the transit is still ongoing to the VT-2004 calculation site where all the data received will be used to determine the mean distance from the Earth to the Sun (the "Astronomical Unit"). You can follow in real time at this webpage the number of observers who have sent their data and, in particular, the "current value" of the computed distance based on those observations. The observers' locations are indicated on a geographical map that will be updated as the data come in. How close will the modern observers get to the true value in this re-enacting of a historical measurement, never before attempted on this global scale? Watch and see!
Your photos and drawings!
Will you obtain PHOTOS OF THE EVENT that you would like to submit to the VT-2004 PHOTO ARCHIVE. Or have you an artistic touch and did you make a DRAWING of the event that may be shown at the VT-2004 GALLERY?
The next chance
We from the VT-2004 programme will be there to guide you through the various phases of this memorable event. We will pass on to you impressive photos acquired by our colleagues at the large solar telescopes. We will also provide a running commentary, beginning before dawn (in Central Europe) on the Day of the Transit and only ending when Venus is well beyond the solar disc.
We will collect the best images obtained and display them at the Photo Archive. We will endeavour to secure video sequences of the special moments at the time when Venus passes the solar limb (the four "contacts") and if it moves near important solar features.
With all of this, we will show the way for the next Venus transit in 2012. It will not be visible in Europe, but our colleagues in the Pacific Region will do the observations and transmit them to us on the other side of the Earth.
But if you miss that opportunity, you will have to wait for another one until 2117!