If astronomy interests you, this is one chance you might not want to miss. The Earth will witness the last Venus transit of the century next week, where Venus will be seen in front of the Sun like a small black moving dot. The next Venus transit will be in 2117.
The transit of Venus, a unique celestial treat, will be witnessed worldwide on June 6 this year. In India, the transit can be seen from 6.30am to 10.30pm.
If scientists at Gujarat Science City are to be believed, CM Narendra Modi too will be part of the viewing of this unique transit on June 6 at science city.
“When a 30-minute presentation on the Venus transit was made to our CM, he was not just excited but wanted the programme to be addressed as India-Gujarat-Venus transit and so it was. Gujarat Science City & Gujarat Council on Science and Technology (GUJCOST) designed and developed a series of activities and outreach materials on ‘Transit of Venus’ for students, teachers and community members. They also prepared a unique activity kit with 25 hands-on activities to be conducted during the transit period, a booklet and an informative film”, said senior scientist at Gujarat Science City and advisor, GUJCOST, Narottam Sahoo.
According to Ravi Saxena, additional chief secretary, science & technology department, government of Gujarat, “The transit is among the rarest astronomical phenomena and won’t happen again until the year 2117. Only seven such events have occurred since the invention of the telescope in 1608. From Earth, only the transits of Mercury and Venus can be viewed. On an average, there are 13 transits of Mercury each century. In contrast, transit of Venus occurs in pairs, with each pair separated by more than a century.”
Dr VB Kamble from Vigyan Prasar added, “This event helps measure the distance of earth from the sun, and consequently of all the planets. This transit is special because it is the last time in our lifetime that we will have an opportunity to collect data for a planet and that too as well characterized as Venus.”
Gujarat Science City in association with Vigyan Prasar has also prepared an activity kit for a country-wide campaign through thousands of science clubs as well as common people. About 15,000 activity kits and 1,000 modular telescopes have been made and distributed across the country through VIPNET Science Clubs and State S&T Councils.
However, Kamble also points out certain safety measures for viewing the transit, namely, use of proper solar filters. “No matter what recommended technique you may use, do not stare continuously at the Sun. Take breaks and give your eyes some rest. Do not use sunglasses. They don’t offer your eyes sufficient protection,” he added.