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June 5, 2012

Venus transit 2012 begins as the world looks to the sky

BANGALORE, India : If you do not look at the sky today, then you'll have to wait till 2117. Backlit by the Sun, as the bird flies across, its silhouette has often made for picture-perfect moments.

"Today's transit of Venus across the Sun is no different," confirms Dr E Ebenezer, scientist, Radio Astronomy group at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics. "Only Venus and Mercury can transit this way as they appear before the Earth in the solar system," he adds. The next transit of this nature, as recorded by scientists, is slotted to occur 105 years later - in December 2117. For Akshay Kumar MA, student of Jain College who is spearheading the Sheraton Astronomy Club, this phenomenon goes beyond just witnessing it.

"I am at Nikaya Observatory with enthusiastic astronomers. Today's transit is significant given that Venus is coming in between the Sun and the Earth. Several scientific conclusions can be drawn from it.

We can find the exact distance between Sun and Earth and also calculate the Sun's diameter," he says. "For the layperson, there are many ways of watching it. While some will opt for a telescope, people in earlier times used to mix cow dung in water and watch the Sun's reflection in it. Both the methods are safe. Today, it's important to watch the transit through a space filter," explains Dr Sujata Virdhe, former Isro scientist and founder of Sunday Science School. She has also designed Nebula Solar Goggles, which has been put through various tests to sanctify the power of its solar filter.

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