June’s Venus Transit Should Provide Spectacular Images and Research Opportunities


COLUMBUS, Ga. – Partnering with NASA, researchers from Columbus State University's Coca-Cola Space Science Center
will travel to Mongolia and Australia in June to document Venus' trip
between the Earth and sun, a celestial event that won't occur again for
another 105 years.

Stationed in Utah and Columbus in North America, Alice Springs in
Australia and the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, space science center staff
will photograph, shoot video and webcast Venus as it moves across the
face of the sun in an event that astronomers call a transit. The 2012
Transit of Venus will last nearly seven hours from June 5-6, providing
extraordinary viewing opportunities for observers around the world, said
Shawn Cruzen, executive director of the center and a Columbus State
University astronomy professor.

“For astronomy fans, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Cruzen
said. “Unfortunately audiences in the continental United States will
only be able to see a portion of the transit as the sun sets in the
west. An additional limitation in viewing the sun is the danger posed to
the naked eye. Special equipment and techniques are required to create a
safe observing environment.”


In an effort to make this event more accessible to the public,
Columbus State University's Coca-Cola Space Science Center has partnered
with NASA and the International Space School Education Trust to provide
a multi-continent webcast of the 2012 Transit of Venus. The space
science center is believed to be the only university-affiliated
institution partnering with NASA to provide images from remote locations
for its webcast

Audiences throughout the world will have an opportunity to experience
this entire event safely via the Internet and NASA's TV channel.
Coca-Cola Space Science Center teams are traveling to Mongolia and the
Australian outback near Alice Springs to be in optimal observation sites
to acquire images and video of the entire transit.

Another team will remain in Georgia to provide local images and
video, and Columbus State University student Katherine Lodder will
provide a second set of U.S. images from Bryce Canyon National Park in
Utah. All teams will be equipped with hydrogen alpha, calcium K-line,
and solar white light filters that will allow for spectacular imaging of
the event, Cruzen said.

Those filters are provided by the center's Mead Observatory, where
they are used regularly to obtain images and animations of solar
phenomena such as sunspots, flares, plages, faculae, prominences, and
filaments. Typically, students from Columbus State study solar phenomena
to better understand the sun's cycle of activity and its interaction
with the Earth. However, during the Transit of Venus, these solar
features will become, for one final period in their lives, a stunning
backdrop against which Venus' planetary disk will cross the sun's
865,000-mile face.

View the webcast by visiting http://www.ccssc.org/transit2012.html or by linking through the NASA partners at NASA's Sun Earth Day website, http://sunearthday.nasa.gov.


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