Session Detail

HAD I: Transits of Venus: Looking Forward, Looking Back
Special Session
Sunday, Jan 08, 2012, 1:00 PM - 3:40 PM
Room 12A
The June 6, 2012, transit of Venus, completing the pair that began on June 8, 2004, will represent the last chance to observe one of these rare events from Earth until the next pair, December 11, 2117, and December 8, 2125. This year’s transit will be extremely advantageous as almost all the most populated areas of the Earth will be able to see at least some of the transit: the only land masses from which no part of the transit will be visible are the western Iberian peninsula, the western part of Africa, the eastern part of South America, and Antarctica.
We invite presentations on both important historical aspects of the transits of Venus and modern applications. From a historical point of view, the occasion is of importance in providing a point of departure for a reconsideration of the singular importance of the transits in the history of astronomy and in the geographical exploration of the Earth, which led to massive preparations and far flung expeditions in the eighteenth century in pursuit of the Halleyan project of determining the solar parallax. The nineteenth-century transits also played out against a background rivalries among the great European world empires (England, Russia, France, and the U.S.) then at their height and then sliding imperceptibly but ineluctably toward the Great War. The 2012 transit offers an opportunity to revisit the important expeditions of the past—many of which have been catalogued and some noted by markers or restored—and to engage in “experimental archaeology,” the reconstruction of past observations, including of the Black Drop and luminous aureole, about which it was and is often mistakenly stated that, particularly for the earliest observations, it is produced by refraction by the atmosphere of Venus. Possible observations of special historical interest in 2012 could include some using historical instruments and techniques or observing from the same locations as earlier observers. But far from being an entirely retrospective exercise, the history of transit observations defines critical problems to be addressed by modern high-resolution observations from Earth and space. These include the detailed profiling of the atmosphere of Venus with ground-based and space-based observations (from satellites meant to study the Sun) and the study of a local analogue to exoplanet transits across their parent stars, the focus of many contemporary astrophysical investigations and space missions whose key astrophysical goals are to understand the prevalence and structure of planetary systems very different from our own solar system. In short, though often said to be of strictly historical interest owing to the fact that the Halleyan solar parallax method has long since been superseded, transits of Venus continue to be of great importance to astronomers and astrophysicists working at the cutting edge of important problems of our own day. See and
Jay M. Pasachoff1
1Williams College.

90.00C. Chair
Jay M. Pasachoff1
1Williams College.

Sunday, Jan 08, 2012, 1:00 PM - 1:40 PM
90.01. Transits Of Venus: 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882, 2004, And 2012
Jay M. Pasachoff1
1Williams College.

Sunday, Jan 08, 2012, 1:40 PM - 2:20 PM
90.02. Astronomers, Transits of Venus, and the Birth of Experimental Psychology
William Sheehan1, S. Thurber
1Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Services.

Sunday, Jan 08, 2012, 2:20 PM - 3:00 PM
90.03. Australians and Americans: Observing the 1874 Transit Down Under
Nick Lomb1
1Powerhouse Museum, Australia.

Sunday, Jan 08, 2012, 3:00 PM - 3:40 PM
90.04. Transit of Venus Culture: A Celestial Phenomenon Intrigues the Public
Chuck Bueter1

William Sheehan1
1Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Services.