Sky gazers gather at Edgewater to view Venus’ venture
By Jennifer Nagy
June 14, 2012
For the last time in our lifetime, Venus crossed the face of the sun on Tuesday, June 5, which drew a crowd of thousands to Edgewater State Park to view the astronomical wonder.
Professional and amateur astronomers lined the Lake Erie coast with various sized telescopes allowing attendees to catch a clear glimpse of Venus passing in front of the sun.
The second planet from the sun appeared as a small black dot that was moving ever so slowly across the surface of the sun. Despite cloud coverage prior to the event, the transit began at 6:04 p.m. and was visible to Clevelanders until sunset at 8:55 p.m.
Participants at the event viewed the transit through telescopes with special filters or with solar viewers provided by the event sponsor, Cleveland State University, and event partners Cuyahoga Astronomical Association, Cleveland Astronomical Society and Baldwin Wallace College.
Sky gazers were also able to observe the moon, the International Space Station and three additional planets; Mercury, Mars, and Saturn.
Only four transits of Venus occur every 243 years because the planet’s orbit is 3.4 degrees relative to Earth’s. Prior to the June 5 transit, the most recent journey in front of the sun for Venus occurred on June 8, 2004.
This alignment is rare and comes in pairs that are eight years apart, but separated by over a century from each other, by 105 or 121 years.
Historically, astronomers observed such transits to determine the relative size of the solar system as well as the distance between the Earth and the sun.
In the era of smartphone apps, TransitVenus app allowed citizens and scientists alike to track the rare celestial event and share their observations to a collective experiment measuring the distance between the Earth and sun.
The rare opportunity to witness the transit of Venus will not occur again until Dec. 2117.