The Venus Transit 2004
... How to Prepare Yourself for the Day of the Transit (5)!
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!