U of T news
  • Follow U of T News

Wondering how to celebrate the transit of Venus?

Join the viewing at the stadium at Varsity Centre

Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics)

On June 5th, 2012, the world will be watching as the planet Venus passes in front of the Sun.

And the best place to watch the transit of Venus will be the stadium at University of Toronto’s Varsity Centre.

A special transit-viewing event at the stadium will provide visitors with every possible way of viewing and learning about this spectacle. The Varsity Stadium grandstand will provide the perfect view for the transit, which begins at 6:04pm and continues to sunset.

“This phenomenon has not happened since 2004 and will not happen again until 2117,” said Michael Reid, Director of Outreach and Education at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics. “For virtually every human alive today, June 5th will be the last chance to see this fascinating celestial event.”

Visitors can watch using free transit-viewing glasses and through a variety of solar telescopes that will be set up on site—including a 200-year-old instrument from the U of T’s Scientific Instruments Collection. Furthermore, live video feeds will show the transit from locations around the world.

The event also includes special-ticketed planetarium shows in Varsity Arena, a free astronomy public lecture, as well as special live performances of Canadian playwright Maureen Hunter’s Transit of Venus.

U of T astronomers will be on hand to answer such questions as: “Why did explorers travel to far-flung destinations to view transits in the 1700s?” or “How are transits helping us find planets around other stars?” Or even: “How can observing the moon during the transit, with the Hubble Space Telescope, help us in our search for life beyond Earth?”

The University of Toronto is home to many planet hunters who use transits and other means to find distant worlds.

“Beyond their public appeal, transits are also important scientifically because they relate to one of the most exciting fields of investigation in astronomy today: the search for planets around other stars,” said Dunlap Institute postdoctoral fellow, Nicholas Law.

“One way astronomers find these so-called exoplanets is by detecting transits of distant stars," Law said. "When an exoplanet crosses the face of a star, astronomers detect the slight, periodic dip in the brightness of the star, revealing the presence of the distant planet.”

The event is being organized by the university’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, in collaboration with the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, the Department of Alumni Relations, the Institute for the History & Philosophy of Science & Technology, and the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, with sponsorship from SkyNews magazine.

The June 5th viewing is the second major Venus transit event at U of T this year. An April symposium brought together experts who presented talks on a wide variety of topics including: the centuries-long history of transits and the expeditions to observe them; how to view the transit safely; incorporating the transit into school math and science curricula; and the connection between the transit of Venus and the search for planets around distant stars.

Varsity Stadium gates open at 5:30pm. Varsity Stadium is located on the south side of Bloor Street, one block east of St. George Street and a half-block west of the ROM. Visitors will enter through the Bloor Street entrance of the stadium. The venue is steps away from the St. George and Museum subway stations.

For more information about the Varsity Stadium event and the transit or to register visit: http://universe.utoronto.ca/transit2012