TRANSIT OF VENUS LEARNING RESOURCES – FR

The Transit of Venus on June 5th/6th 2012 offered a unique opportunity to see the shadow of Venus cross the face of the Sun – the next occurrence will not be until 2117! GLORIA astronomers wanted to record the event in different ways for a variety of purposes.
The resources below give you some background to the history of such transits, why they are important and how they can be used to measure important properties of our own solar system, such as the Earth-Sun distance.
Transits of planets around other stars provide a way to determine the radius of the planet, which is a key step to determining its density and hence whether it is rocky (like Earth) or gaseous. So, planetary transits, far from being only of ‘historical’ interest, have a vital role to play in the detection and characterisation of planets around other stars, one of the most exciting areas of modern astronomy.


TRANSIT OF VENUS DESCRIPTION


Subject(s):
  • Astronomy, Physics, Mathematics, History, Computing, Image Analysis
Resource Type:
  • Detailed (~30 page) description of the Transit of Venus and how it can be used to measure the Earth-Sun distance.
Weblink: Reference PDF document
Language(s):
  • English, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Czech, Russian
Grade Level(s):
  • Secondary Education (15-18 years old)

Description:
The Transit of Venus in 2012 was literally a once in a lifetime event. Historically, previous Transits of Venus were used to measure the distance between the Earth and the Sun. This document describes 2 methods which can be used to make this measurement and derives the formulae needed, using Pythagoras’ theorem and the concept of parallax.

The GLORIA expeditions to Japan and Australia to record this event are also described.


PARALLAX


Subject(s):
  • Astronomy, Art, Physics, Mathematics
Resource Type:
  • Animation which gives a visual explanation of how parallax is used by astronomers to measure large distances.
Weblink: Unicycle guy on YouTube channel
Language(s):
  • None
Grade Level(s):
  • Primary Education (10-12 years old), Secondary Education (12-15 years old), Secondary Education (15-18 years old)

Description:
This short animation provides a simple but effective description of how parallax can be used to measure distance, both in art and astronomy. The concept is then expanded to the Transit of Venus and shows how the apparent shift in position of Venus’ shadow on the face of the Sun by observers at two different locations on Earth can be used to calculate the distance from the Earth to the Sun.


MEASURING THE EARTH-SUN DISTANCE


Subject(s):
  • Astronomy, Physics, Mathematics, Computing, Image Analysis
Resource Type:
  • Analysis Tool: Online measurement of Earth-Sun distance
Weblink: Venus Web Calculator
Language(s):
  • English, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Czech, Russian, French, German
Grade Level(s):
  • Secondary Education (15-18 years old)

Description:
This interactive web-based tool implements the two methods described in the resource document (hyperlink to venus-transit-A1-earth-sun-distance-FINAL.pdf) to calculate the Earth-Sun distance. However, students do not need to have a detailed understanding of the derivations given in the document to carry out this activity. On-line help, with instructions, is provided. Since the parallax shift is very small, it is important to centre the cursor as accurately as possible. Please send us your feedback to help improve the tool. The activity should take about 20 minutes to complete.


MESSAGE TO THE FUTURE


Subject(s):
  • Astronomy, History, Citizen Science, Environment, Geography
Resource Type:
  • Photo archive
Weblink: Message to the Future
Language(s):
  • None
Grade Level(s):
  • All

Description:
For many people on the planet, this was their only chance to see a Transit of Venus. What story do we want to tell to our descendants who will see the next transit? What was going on in the world on that day, against the backdrop of this magnificent cosmic spectacle? We asked people to document this historic event by turning their cameras back to Earth to capture photos of special places, everyday life, memorable events, themselves and their loved ones, on the days of June 5th and 6th 2012.
The result is an archive of nearly 500 photos that are a resource for doing outreach, placing science in context, exploring the role of citizen scientists, or perhaps as a starting point for making a school time capsule to be kept sealed until the next Transit of Venus in 2117 – you decide! If you do use any of these images in a project, we would love to hear from you (by email to Lorraine.hanlon AT ucd.ie).


PLANETARY TRANSITS

Subject(s):
  • Astronomy, Physics, Mathematics, History
Resource Type:
  • NASA SpaceMath ‘Transit Math’ document that develops the tools, concepts and mathematics of planetary transits in our own and other solar systems, using lots of practical exercises.
Weblink: Space Math VII
Language(s):
  • English
Grade Level(s):
  • Secondary Education (12-15 years old), Secondary Education (15-18 years old).

Description:
This collection of activities is based on a series of space science problems intended for students looking for additional challenges in the mathematics and physical sciences curriculum in secondary school. They are also suitable for use in first year university Introductory Astronomy courses. The problems present aspects of modern science and engineering, often involving actual research data. The problems and solutions are presented in a popular compact form.