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Astronomy enthusiasts to watch transit of Venus across the Sun

June 06, 2012, 2:21 UTC+3
The Venus transit across the disk of the Sun is a rare phenomenon which happens every 243 years
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CHERKESSK, Karachai-Cherkessia Republic, June 6 (Itar-Tass) — The staff of the Special Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) of the Russian Academy of Scientces in the Karachai-Cherkessia Republic (KCR) have arranged observation of the upcoming transit of Venus across the disk of the Sun for all astronomy enthusiasts on Wednesday morning.

An official at the SAO management office has told Itar-Tass that numerous enthusiasts of stellar observations, schoolchildren, and members of young astronomer groups from all over the Republic, from Stavropol Territory, and neighbouring regions gathered here at night to observe transit of Venus across the disk of the Sun.

Yekaterina Kuchayeva, Assistant to the SAO Director, said, "An observation site has been arranged at the Observatory, near the main six-metre Large Azimuthal Telescope (LAT) and additional telescopes have been installed. The scientific staff of the SAO will comment on the planet's transit process and answer any arising questions".

Pupils of secondary schools will visit SAO during the Venus transit to hear a lecture about the Solar system planets and ways to observe them. "Any person will be able to see the rare phenomenon, weather permitting, of course," SAO people say.

Astronomers point out that at about 05:00, Moscow time, Wednesday, SAO observers will see the Sun appearing from under the horizon, with a dark dot on it, and until approximately 08:40 the disk of Venus will be moving across that of the Sun. Two most interesting effects will be observed in conclusion of the Venus transit: at the moment of the Venus departure from the disk of the Sun, a bright halo will be seen around the planet, which is illustrative of the planet's having an atmosphere (the Lomonosov Effect).

At the moment of the Venus contact with the edge of the solar disk, there will apear a dark link between the solar disk and the Venus shadow (the Black Drop effect).

The Venus transit across the disk of the Sun is a rare phenomenon which happens every 243 years. There are four transits with intervals of 121.5 years and eight years within the period. The previous winter transits were on December 9, 1874, and on December 6, 1882. The recent transit happened on June 8, 2004. Next ones are expected to be observed only in 2117 and 2125.

The SAO, which is located in the mountains of Zelenchuk District of the KCR, was founded in 1966. This is Russia's largest astronomical center for ground observations of the Universe and deep space objects. The main SAO instruments are as follows: an LAT optical telescope with a diameter of the main mirror being six metres, which is installed on the slope of Mount Pastukhov at an altitude of 2,100 metres above sea level, and the RATAN-600 radiotelescope with a diameters of the receiving structure being 600 metres. RATAN is located on the outskirts of Zelenchuk Village at an altitude of 970 metres.

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