Transit of Venus

I went with my wife and son to see Venus as it transits across the sun for the last time in our lifetime (at least from the perspective of our planet), at the Holcomb Observatory on the Butler University campus. We got there a little late, in terms of when first contact was, and those who came later still formed a long line which probably means that some will not get up to the telescope in time to see it.

The last time this occurred was in 2004, but the time before that was in 1882, and Mark Twain wrote about it. NASA has a live stream.

Even more than the round spot on the sun, I was excited to see such a large number of people turn out for an astronomical event. In an era when a new generation seems to be shifting towards accepting mainstream science even when their forebears did not, and yet it is still not a clear majority that understands how science works and when and why its conclusions are trustworthy, I am always delighted when I witness an outpouring of interest in something to do with science.


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  • When the word gets out that no human alive today–will be alive to see the next Venus transit in the year 2117, that’s a great marketing tool to get people excited.  However, I think within that 105 year range, science and medicine and Doctor Who, will have discovered the secret of immortality; so standing in line today to get a 30-second glimpse of a spot on the sun, may have been a waste of time. That is when you look back on it, 105 years from now.