Transit of Venus Coming Soon (6th June 2012)

Do you want to engage your students in a spectacular event that they will never again see in their lifetime? If so , then get planning for the transit of Venus. Australia is ideally located for viewing this event, since the entire transit will be readily visible along the Eastern seaboard. It will occur on 6th June, and is not due to return until 2117.

If you are not aware, the transit of Venus occurs when the planet Venus travels directly between the Sun and the Earth. This is similar to a solar eclipse, when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth. The Venus transit has significant historical significance, since it was used in the 17th and 18th centuries to learn more about the planet Venus (e.g. the prediction of the Atmosphere of the planet in 1761) and to try to estimate the astronomical unit, which is the distance from the Earth to the Sun.

"Crabtree watching the Transit of Venus A.D. 1639" by Ford Madox Brown, a mural at Manchester Town Hall.

"Crabtree watching the Transit of Venus A.D. 1639" by Ford Madox Brown, a mural at Manchester Town Hall.

Portable observatory used by Captain Cook

Portable observatory used by Captain Cook

This is an image of a print entitled "Venus Fort, Erected by the Endeavour's People to secure themselves during the Observation of the Transit of Venus, at Otaheite." by Sydney Parkinson. Original caption: “Drawings illustrative of Captain Cook's First Voyage, 1768-1771 located in the British Library”

This is definitely something you should consider adding to your Science program, with the transit occurring on 6th June 2012.

The Museum of Tropical Queensland has plans to develop a special program for the transit, the solar eclipse in November, and Astronomy more generally so keep an eye on their website and watch this space.

But wait there’s more: you can win a prize! Part of this early heads-up is to alert you to a competition called the SolarScope School Competition and in the process, students can engage with an interactive simulation. The directions on the Transit of Venus Australia 2012 website are to: ‘Download the student exercise Transit of Venus – A Simulation Program and the astronomical software simulation program Stellarium.  Use Stellarium to simulate the transit of Venus from the location of your school (you will have to find out the latitude and longitude of the school).  Predict the timing of second contact (when Venus is just inside the Sun on the way “in”).  Then enter your answer and the school’s details below. … Winners will receive a free SolarScope in May 2012.’ The SolarScope is a device through which the transit can be safely observed.

But hurry, entries close on 12th of March.

I plan to upload more details and links to resources in the near future. To get you started, why not check out the resources section of the web site mentioned above, which also has links to numerous resources from around the world, including lesson plans. There are obvious links to the Australian History Curriculum and should also be integrated if possible. This is a great opportunity to get some cross-curricular learning happening with your SOSE/History colleagues.

About Marcel Bruyn

I am a Senior Project Officer in the Strategic Learning section of the Queensland Museum, seconded fron DET. I joined the team in January 2012. My teaching experience is predominantly Science and Mathematics in secondary schools in ACT, Brisbane and remote NT. I have a science background with a degree in Zoology & Botany. I have a particular interest in the use of serious games in the classroom—as constructivist tools that engage students and encourage a plethora of thinking skills and processes. I am also keen to explore opportunities for using mobile technology (think smart phones and augmented reality) in the classroom and museum. B.Sc. (Hons); Grad.Dip.Ed.; Grad.Cert.Ed.
This entry was posted in Classroom Practice, Earth and Space Sciences, Science Learning Resources. Bookmark the permalink.

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