The Venus transit from the school.




Astronomy at the school “El Roure Gros” has traditionally been an important subject present at all stages of education.

The observation of the Venus transit  and in its moment, the observation of the transit of Mercury, have been very awaited and expected events for the whole Educative Community.

During the 2001-2002 academic year, Venus was object of study using the direct observation, its orbit and the Orbit of the Earth were reproduced on the gym’s floor at the school. This model remains still today on the floor at the gym and it has been of great help to start working on the transit of Venus. These two orbits were used to simulate what would happen on the 8 th June 2004. To do so, the Earth and Venus were properly located on their orbits at the gym. This and other activities helped us to understand and comprehend better the events that were to be observed. The 8 th. June all the school members were organised and ready to follow the event. Organized in groups, the students in the middle and upper stages (8-12 years old) went through different activities during the morning (observation with the telescope, observation with solar masks, consulting in the Internet, making a Sun-Venus-Earth model, recording impressions and comments using a video camera, drawing the observations made) and they also made written annotations on specific tasks. The students at the initial stage (6-7 years old) observed with the telescope, using solar masks, they made written notes, drawings and explained their impressions. Preschoolers made group observations and, with the help of their tutors, made drawings.

Later on, all the students extracted conclusions using from the observations made.  


The public school "El Roure Gros" in Santa Eulàlia de Riuprimer is a small school that groups the pupils by stages or education cycles. There are two units (2 classrooms) in the Nursery School with 31 pupils and three units (3 classrooms) in the Primary School with 43 pupils and a total of 8 teachers.

 For many years the school “El Roure Gros” has been integrating Astronomy in its curriculum in both the nursery and the primary school, basing its learning in the observation, the experimentation the analysis and its subsequent reflection and the concretion of conclusions. In fact, at "El Roure Gros",astronomy is often at the centre of the learning.

 Being the astronomy a starting point, we work topics on mathematics, sciences, language, ITC, the Internet, arts, etc. The pupils, and in addition their families, are specially motivated for this topic and the observations we make with the help of the telescope are opened to anyone who wants to take part in it with or without direct relation to the school. It is therefore coherent with this way of working that we take advantage in the school of the observation and the study of any accessible astronomic event: the transit of Mercury and Venus, Moon eclipses, observation of planets, meteor showers, etc   

How we collected information

Previous Work

During the academic year 2001 and 2002 the pupils at years 3, 4, 5 and 6 in primary school (between 8 and 11 years of age) studied and observed the Planet Venus. We were especially interested in observing the fact that this planet presents phases just like the moon does, and above all, motivated to discover what is the reason that makes us see it that way.

When carrying out the study, we made on the gym floor a model of the orbits of the Earth and Venus following, more or less, a scale based on distances. On these orbits, and with the help of some figures, we located both planets every ten days, so that at the end of the school year we discovered how much orbit the planets had cover and the reason why from the Earth we see Venus at dawn or at sunset and in different phases.

All the previous work did help a lot to the pupils at the last cycle of primary education (year 5 and year 6), when introducing the event of the Transit of Venus. Although when the previous work was made they were the younger in the group and maybe they were not able to understand completely what was being worked, they had enough knowledge to start with the new object of study.

The model of the orbits of the Earth and Venus still remain on the floor in gym and were used as the starting point to carry out this work unit.


In addition, and before the event of the Transit of Venus took place, at the beginning of the academic year the pupils at years 5 and 6 made individually a model of the orbits of Venus, Mars and the Earth using a scale based on distances. On these models, and approximately every 10 days, they located the planets in the situation indicated on the figures they used. As we got closer to the 8 th June we realised that the two planets, Venus and the Earth, were slowly getting aligned and once the event was over we could draw the lines of nodes.  



After the 8 th June and observing the models of the orbits of Venus, the Earth and Mars we could reach the following conclusions:

·       Venus is closer to the Sun and the distance its orbit covers is shorter. Mars, on the contrary, is further from the Sun its orbit is longer and therefore the distance it covers is longer. When Venus has already completed more than one time its orbit the Earth has only covered three quarters of it and Mars has approximately covered one third. Venus is faster than the Earth and much faster than Mars in its translation movement.      

·       A year in Venus is much shorter than a year in the Earth, but a year in Earth is shorter than one in Mars.

·       From the Earth we will never be able to see the transit of Mars, only the transits of Mercury and Venus (we have had the opportunity to see them both).

Long before the transit of Venus took place, all the teachers at the school got information from different web sites, bibliography and information from some astronomer friends. That way we started to feel a bit more confident although our intention was to learn along with the pupils .    

The older pupils helped the younger to understand what was going to happen. Using spotlights and balls we simulated the transit and we compared it with the last moon eclipse we could see from the school.

All the primary pupils watched and commented the report found at   Tránsito de Venus para peques ”, and they extracted different significant information to them. That information was written down and placed in a visible location in the school:    

  • Venus is the second planet of the solar system. It forms part of the four inner planets: Mercury, Venus, the Earth and Mars.
  • Venus has got similar dimensions to the Earth.
  • Venus also makes two movements: the rotation and the translation movement. Venus’ rotation movement is much slower than the Earth’s rotation movement, it takes 243 days and it rotates clockwise (unlike the Earth). So, in Venus, the Sun rises in the West and sets in the East.
  • Venus’ translation movement takes 224 days that means that one year in Venus is shorter than one day.
  • Venus is surrounded by a thick layer of clouds. For a very long time, it was thought that those clouds provoked continuous rains and so that the planet was covered with rainforest woods. It was only 40 years ago that Russians and Americans discovered that the atmosphere in Venus is made of carbonic dioxide and its temperature is 480 º C, enough temperature to smelt lead.  
  • The surface in Venus is formed by mountains, planes and volcanoes, with winds that blow at 100km per hour.
  • Rain is not formed of water but of sulphuric acid, a very dangerous substance.
  • We can see Venus in different phases like the moon, and it is so shining that sometimes can be seen even though the sky is not completely dark. Sometimes is visible at sunset and sometimes at dawn. When we want to observe Venus we have to look in a close direction to the Sun.   
  • Venus is 108 millions of kilometres away from the Sun and the Earth is 149 millions of kilometres away from the Sun.  


8th June 2004. Observation DAY

The day of the observation everything was set around the event. The older children, some young ones, and some mums and grandmothers were at the school at 7 o’clock in the morning, they did not want to miss a single thing!   



Both in the playground and in the school building were located several work or observation points: 

Point num. 1. was located at the playground where there were two telescopes pointing at the Sun and projecting the image on a screen with a graduated circle. There was also a satellite receiver where we could read the exact time, it was necessary to be as exact and serious as possible.



The pupils from year 3 to year 6 had a handout with a graduated circle on which they had to make the pertinent annotations. The timing of the annotations had to be in Universal Time, so they had to extract two hour to the time given by the clock.


The pupils at year 1 and year 2 had a handout with a circle and they had to draw where they saw the spot. They also took note of the time but the official time given by the clock.


The pupils at the Nursery School were split into three groups. With the help of their tutors they made the observations and, on a Sun drawn by themselves, they located the spot.


Next to the telescopes, there was also a model of “Parallel Earth” made in the school which was used to observe where on Earth was day time and where was night time and how the shadow of night advanced. In other words, how day light was moving towards some places on the Earth and how night was covering some other places. In addition, an equatorial solar clock made by the pupils was also set up on the floor and it helped to compare the official time to the solar time.


Point   num. 2 was also located at the playground, there were 6 masks brought by different pupils’ families.

  The children were well aware of the possible danger of looking at the Sun with no protection and they knew that if they wanted to look at the Sun to see what was happening, they had to do it through the masks.

In that point the children accessed freely and they commented among them or with the teachers what they were seeing. Generally, the observations they made were about the way Venus had coved, how it was seen, how long it would take to transit, etc. Some mothers did show curiosity and looked through the glasses and ask information about the planet and what it was happening.


Point num.3 was located in the computer room where all the computers were connected to the websites of " L'Agrupació astronòmica de Sab ad ell " and the " Planetari o de Plamplona ".

 The main aim of the observation through the Internet was to make everybody aware that what we were observing from the playground at the School was also being watched in different places with more sophisticated and  efficient tools.

  Therefore they could compare their notes and observations with the ones in the websites mentioned and thus have a strong feeling that they were taking part in an important scientific event in which the whole school was taking part.

  Point num. 4 was located in the classroom used as a math laboratory where it could be found drawing and measuring material to make the Sun-Venus-Earth model proposed at website.

  This model was made on a cardboard tray, the trays used to put cakes on. On the tray the children drew the orbits of Venus and the Earth. Then, they cut the orbit of Venus in a way that it was only hold by two points in the same diameter. Those two points represented the line of nodes. Colour stickers represented the Planets and they realised how the planets could be aligned without causing a transit because their orbits are in different planes. Only when they meet in the line of nodes the transit could take place.

Point num. 5 was located in an office where the children could access and record their impressions with the video camera. This point was of special interest since the children explained their impressions without the sensation of being watched. And therefore it allowed us to see up to what point they were understanding what they were seeing.

There was not a guideline or a pattern on what to explain, the only condition was that they could not access to that office if they had nothing to tell.

  Point num. 6 could be located in any classroom at the school because in all of them there was the necessary material to draw using different techniques.

 All the children made different drawings regarding the transit or the experience carried out in the School.


 It was possible to make all this work thanks to the good level of autonomy the children acquire as they grow.

  The pupils at year 3, 4, 5 and 6 were organised in groups of 4 or 5 and did work quite in an autonomous way using a guideline they had been given and that is enclosed in the next point in this document. When they needed any help, they looked for teachers but if no help was needed, they worked on their own.



 During the hours of the observation of the Transit of Venus, the different groups should be going round the different work points:

  POINT 1:

 Every 30 minutes you should watch the transit of Venus at the telescope and write down what you see on the observation sheet.  

  • What do we have to observe?

 We have to observe where the shadow of Venus is in the solar disc projected by the telescope, taking into account the coordinates of the handout to later on write the observation made in a proper way.  

  • What do we have to write down?

 We have to draw on the observation sheet the shadow of Venus and write down the exact time (hour, minutes and seconds) indicated by the satellite clock.

 At 1 p.m. all of us should be back at point num. 1 because that's when the last two contacts of the shadow of Venus with the solar disc are foreseen to take place and we should all be observing and writing down.

  POINT 2:

 You can freely go to the point where the masks are, you can go there in order to observe the transit through the glass. We remind you that the masks should be used properly to avoid accidents.  

  POINT 3:

  After observing the transit of Venus with the masks and having written down the observations, you can go to the computer room and watch through the Internet the transit of Venus from other observation places.

  POINT 4:

 In the math class you can make a Sun-Venus-Earth model.

  POINT 5:

  From time to time, you can explain your impressions and record them with the video camera that will be set up in the office. It is not recommended to use the camera by more than one group at a time. This must be done correctly; there is no need to use the camera if you have nothing to say.

  POINT 6:

  During the whole morning you can make a drawing regarding the transit of Venus, using the technique that you think its best.

  Note: I t i s important that all the members of a group make the same activities at the same time.

  Alter the Observation day of the : w e will collect data, impressions and we will come up with conclusions. Observation day of the : w e will collect data, impressions and we will come up with conclusions.


 description of our observation site

Observations was maked in Santa Eulàlia de Riuprimer 's school courtyard.  

Sta. Eulàlia de Riuprimer have 900 inhabitants, and it's located in the Barcelona province, in Catalonia (Spain).

His latitude it's 42º North and the longitude 2'15º East

The town it's surrounded of oak and pine forests in a great plain between the mountains. The Pirineus at north, the Montseny at east and the Serralada Prelitoral at West and South-West.

The school name it's "El Roure Gros" (The Big Oak). It is a cyclic school, that contents two unities of infantile education and three of primary education. In last school year, "El Roure Gros" had 74 students (31 of infantile education and 43 of primary education) and 8 teachers.

  description of our group 

This project was carried out by all of teachers and students of the school.

Teachers: Carme Alemany Miralpeix, Montserrat Tió Puntí, Andreu Cardo Martínez, Marisa Puntí,

                  Balbina Tantinyà, Eva Glòria Millan Sanchez, Francesc Rusinyol Rusinyol, Josep Alvàrez Cuñat

Students: 31 of infantile education ( 12 of 3 years old, 9 of 4 yo and 10 of 5 yo)   

                 43 of primary education ( 8 of 6 yo, 12 of 7 yo, 4 of 8 yo, 5 of 9 yo, 5 of 10 yo and 9 of 11 yo) 

School: “C.E.I.P. “El Roure Gros”

                Sta. Eulàlia de Riuprimer 08505 (Barcelona)

                Catalonia (Spain)

  RESPONSABLE: Carme Alemany Miralpeix


DESCRIPTION OF the instruments WE used

  • An equatoral mounted telescope of 90mm diàmeter

  • An equatorial mounted telescope of 70mm diàmeter

  • Welding goggles

  • Internet connected pc's

  • Earth model (diameter: 80 cm) made by the pupils.Placed so the map point corresponding to Catalunya is paralel to our real location. 

  • Equatorial solar clock made by the pupils.

  • Satellite clock

  • Drawing material :Papers, pencils... 




  • The transit took 6 hours and 7 minutes approximately.
  • The first inner contact took place at 7.20 official time (5.20 Universal Time). We could observe the black drop effect.
  • The last inner contact was at 13.10 official time (11.10 Universal Time). The black drop effect was also visible.
  • The last exterior contact was at 13.23 official time (11.23 Universal Time).
  • We could not distinguish the aura of the planet (the aura is the atmosphere of the planet) once it was not in front of the Sun.
  • It was difficult to draw on the handout where exactly the planet Venus was but we know that the speed of the transit was always regular.

 At the school hall made a big mural with pictures of the tasks made by the pupils and the conclusions. At the end of course celebration, a group of children explained the work and the experienced lived while visitors watched the mural.





We think it is very interesting to carry out reserch work draw the children's attention to the scientific. It is a way to link the school work to reality and feel that the learning is meaningful. Apart from learning, it can be said that children can give their opinion on the way media reports about the topic.   Works based on the observation of astronomic phenomena allow us to establish a link between the scientific world, the mass media world and the school.

 We realise that doing such scientific observations from the nursery school, provide our students with the interest, the methodology and a good level of autonomy to do scientific research and study.

 We are aware that this kind of work could be seen as something isolated in the school's everyday life, but this is not our case because any study allows us to work integrating the different curricular areas or subjects. Therefore, we take good advantage of scientific events, cultural events, etc. to globalize the different objects of learning.

We think it is very positive that scientific entities such as the ESSO and EAAE , adapt up-to-date information and proposals for primary pupils. All this materials have been of great help to us when carrying out these observation tasks.