National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Dr. Steven Williams

The Transit of Venus

June 5, 2012

Dr. Steven Williams from NASA’s Planetary Science Division spoke about the expected occurrence of the transit of Venus in the evening. He began by discussing the history of the Venus transit and the scientific accomplishments achieved with each transit. This began with the invention of the telescope, which allowed Galileo to note dark spots on the Sun. The spots could be due to objects passing in between the Earth and the Sun, or objects on the Sun’s surface. Through differences in the velocities of these objects, Galileo was able to determine Venus’ transit was indeed an object passing between the Earth and the Sun. The Transit of Venus which occurred in the 1760’s enabled Halley to determination of the size of Venus. Now, similar methods are used by Keplar spacecraft to determine the existence of exoplanets in transit against distant stars.

The June 5th transit of Venus will be observed from all over the world. Between the 2004 transit and the total solar eclipse earlier this year, the community is ready to observe the transit and spread scientific excitement to the surrounding community. Dr. Williams challenged the listeners to take part in this 400 year tradition and to show scientific advancement and discovery over the course of time, until the next Transit of Venus.