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MEDIA ADVISORY: MU Offers Last Chance to Watch Venus Cross the Face of the Sun until 2117

June 5th, 2012

Story Contact: Timothy Wall, 573-882-3346,

WHAT: University of Missouri astronomers invite the public to watch Venus cross the face of the sun, which won’t occur again for more than a century. This astronomical event, called a “transit,” occurs when Venus passes directly between the sun and Earth, which allows viewers to observe Venus as a black disk moving across the sun.

MU astronomers will provide telescopes and binoculars equipped with protective filters so that guests may view the sun without damaging their eyes. The main telescope in Laws Observatory also will be fitted with a filter.

After the sun sets, Angela Speck, professor and director of MU’s astronomy program, will discuss the transit’s unusual 243-year cycle. She also will explain how the first scientific observation of the transit in 1639 was used to estimate the solar system’s size.

The University of Missouri Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Arts and Science will host the event.

WHO: MU faculty, staff, students and the general public


Transit viewing – Laws Observatory, Physics Building, MU campus

Discussion – 114 Physics Building, MU campus


Transit viewing – 5 p.m., Tuesday, June 5

Discussion – 8:30 p.m.

NOTE: This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be available at the discussion.