Whether you were a kid eager to build your own paper rocket to launch, a robotics enthusiast or a stargazer, all facets of the Fairbanks community participated in the public activies presented by NASA, the Alaska Space Grant Program, the Fairbanks Astronomical Unit and the Geophysical Institute on June 5, 2012. More than 1,000 people attended, sharing in the excitement of viewing the transit of Venus across the face of the sun. The once-in-a-lifetime event took place both inside and outside of the Noel Wien Library.
Neal Brown, former director of the Alaska Space Grant Program and Poker Flat Research Range, said, "You can't imagine how happy I am that that many people from Fairbanks came out to take part in the event."
Brown, who manned a Sunspotter station, spent the whole day chatting with locals, showing the black pin-prick of Venus in a projection of the sun. People were amazed that some of the sun spots visible were as big or nearly as big as the planet of Venus. Brown contends that most of the day, people were lined up 20-30 people in deep in lines waiting to peer through one of the provided telescopes.
Geophysical Institute Research Associate Professor Robbie Herrick provided a pair of lectures on Venus at the event. Herrick is an expert on Venus and one of his primary research foci resides in analyzing what interior processes have shaped the planet's surface.
The transit of Venus is a remarkably rare event. They occur in pairs and are separated by more than 100 years. The June 5, 2012 event was the second transit to occur this century. The last Venus transit occured in 2004. The next pair of Venus transits will occur in 2117 and 2125.
To view coverage of the event by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, click here.
For more information about the transit of Venus provided by NASA, click here.
PHOTO CAPTION/CREDIT: On June 5, 2012, Kevin Abnett views the transit of Venus through a Sunspotter at the Noel Wien Library in Fairbanks, Alaska. Photo by A. Hartley.