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Maui Prepares for Transit of Venus

May 31, 2012
The Maui Weekly

History repeats itself on June 5 and not again until the year 2117 during the transit of Venus, as the planet crosses the face of the sun as seen from Earth.

Haleakala National Park officials invite the public to join them to witness this once-in-120-years event safely on Tuesday between 12:09 and 6 p.m. HST.

Because the summit of Haleakala National Park is often above the clouds, park staff and Sherri Reed's science students from Seabury Hall will help visitors see the phenomena using "sunspotter" scopes and "sunpeeps" (available at-cost in the park).

Using projection boxes, number 14 welder's glasses or "sunpeeps," all of Hawai'i will be able to view history-in-the-making. Telescopes are not needed to view this phenomenon.

According to park officials, wherever you decide to watch, remember that staring directly at the sun will damage your eyes.

Park officials also remind visitors to wear warm clothing.

In 1769, astronomers knew the relative size of our solar system, and the approximate distances of Earth and the other known planets to the sun, but exact distances were not known.

England's Royal Academy sponsored Captain James Cook's first Pacific voyage to Tahiti to witness a transit of Venus (his second Pacific voyage lead him to Hawai'i).

By measuring how long it took for the tiny black dot of Venus to pass in front of the sun, 18th century astronomer's hoped to fill-in the missing data and to calculate exact distances.



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