Friends of the Zeiss
P.O. Box 1041
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.
Electronic Mail: < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Internet Web Site: < http://www.planetarium.cc >
Blog Site: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com >
For immediate release: 2012 May 29
For more information -- Glenn A. Walsh:
E-Mail < email@example.com >
SAFE PUBLIC VIEWING OF RARE ASTRONOMICAL EVENT WITH
4.5-INCH REFLECTOR TELESCOPE AT MT. LEBANON PUBLIC LIBRARY
Pittsburgh, May 29 – The stars and planets appear to move above us like clockwork each year. And, from time-to-time, the sky becomes even more interesting when there is an eclipse or the sighting of a new comet. However, there is one astronomical event that is so rare that no person living on Earth today had seen it before 2004. In fact, after this event occurs again on June 5, no one will see it again until the year 2117 ! John Philip Sousa was so intrigued by this event, when it occurred in 1882, that he composed the “Transit of Venus March.” Early Tuesday evening, June 5, people in North America will have the chance to witness this very special event—a Transit of the Planet Venus moving directly in front of the Sun. Safe public viewing of this rare astronomical event, using a 4.5-inch reflector telescope, will be offered free-of-charge at the upper parking lot of the Mount Lebanon Public Library, 16 Castle Shannon Boulevard, near Washington Road in Pittsburgh's South Hills. The observation site is located at the southern end of Mount Lebanon's Washington Road business district, about three blocks south of the Port Authority's Mount Lebanon “T” Light Rail Transit Station. Free-of-charge public parking is available at the Library. A solar transit of a planet is when the planet can be seen (using safe solar viewing techniques) in the daytime as it moves in front of, and across, the image of the surface of the Sun. The planets Mercury and Venus are the only planets that can be seen transiting the Sun from the Earth, as these are the only planets closer to the Sun than Earth. A solar transit of the planet Mercury occurs from time-to-time, but is fairly rare and difficult to see due to the small size of Mercury. A solar transit of the planet Venus is extremely rare, as it only happens twice, each spaced eight years apart during a period of more than one hundred years! Indeed, only seven such events have occurred since the 1609 invention of the astronomical telescope (1631, 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882, and 2004). The last solar transit of Venus occurred on 2004 June 8. Friends of the Zeiss, which is a co-sponsor of this 2012 Transit of Venus observing event, provided the only public observing event of the 2004 Transit of Venus in the City of Pittsburgh, along with the Society for the Preservation of the Duquesne Heights Incline. The last solar transit of Venus, prior to 2004, occurred on 1882 Dec. 6. The next one, following the 2012 event, will not occur until 2117 Dec. 11 ! On June 5, the complete transit of Venus, from one side of the Sun to the other, will take nearly seven hours. Unfortunately, viewing of the entire transit is only possible in Alaska, far northern Canada, half of Asia, and half of Australia. Except for Antarctica, most of South America, and a third of Africa, a portion of the transit event is visible in all other areas of our planet. In Western Pennsylvania, the first few hours of the transit event will be visible from 6:04:01 p.m. EDT until local sunset (sunset for Pittsburgh on June 5 is 8:47 p.m. EDT). Although, due to Pennsylvania's hills and valleys, visibility of the event will probably be lost some time between 8:15 and 8:30 p.m. EDT. At the Mount Lebanon Public Library, although the best viewing will probably occur between 6:30 and 8:00 p.m. EDT, the safe telescopic viewing will be available for the entire time the event is visible, from 6:04:01 until around 8:30 p.m. EDT. After we lose sight of the transit event in the telescopes, a web-cast of the transit event will be visible using a Library computer, until the Library closes at 9:00 p.m. EDT.
This free-of-charge telescope observing session, co-sponsored by Friends of the Zeiss and the Mount Lebanon Public Library, will take place so long as clouds do not completely obscure the Sun ! Should inclement weather prevent use of the telescopes for this event, the Library will show a web-cast of the event, until the Library closes at 9:00 p.m. EDT. On June 5, the 4.5-inch reflecting telescope, mounted in the upper parking lot of the Mount Lebanon Public Library, will project the image of the Solar Transit of Venus onto a portable movie screen, for safe viewing. Observing the Sun with a telescope, binoculars, or any other type of optical device should only be attempted by people who have received the proper training and possess the proper equipment to do so safely. Observing the Solar Transit of Venus, at the Mount Lebanon Public Library, will be supervised by former Buhl Planetarium Astronomical Observatory Coordinator and Planetarium Lecturer Glenn A. Walsh. NEVER look directly at the Sun, a solar eclipse, or a solar transit of a planet with a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device unless you have the special training and special equipment to do so safely. Otherwise, this would cause PERMANENT BLINDNESS INSTANTLY ! NEVER look directly at the Sun or a solar eclipse with your unaided eye. This could cause MAJOR EYE DAMAGE and POSSIBLE BLINDNESS ! Eye damage can occur rapidly, without any pain, since there are no nerves in the eyes. For further questions about safely viewing the Solar Transit of Venus, send an electronic mail message to: < firstname.lastname@example.org > or telephone 412-561-7876. Friends of the Zeiss is a ten-year-old non-profit organization with the mission to promote the history and preservation of the historic equipment, artifacts, and building of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, including the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector (prior to 2002 dismantling, oldest operable major planetarium projector in the world !) and the 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope. More information: < http://www.planetarium.cc > or 412-561-7876. - 30 -