Transit of Venus

Last updated: 29 May 2012

This week, Adam and guests look ahead to a once-in-a-lifetime event: a transit of the planet Venus across the face of the Sun.

Broadcast Tuesday 29th May at 7pm

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Transit of Venus

In the early hours of Wednesday 6th June 2012 a tiny dot will appear on one side of the Sun and over the course of a few hours it'll work its way across the solar disc. That dot is the planet Venus and it's one of the rarest events in astronomy. Miss this one and you'll have to wait until the year 2117 to see it again.

In this week's Science Café Adam asks what makes the transit of Venus so significant. Not only does it help us learn more about the planet that's our nearest neighbour, it also gives us an insight into the exoplanets orbiting far distant stars.

Adam finds out how, when and where to watch the transit and considers a planet which, despite its serene appearance, is actually shrouded in clouds of sulphuric acid and has a surface temperature that's hot enough to melt lead.

Joining him to discuss the planet they call 'Earth's Evil Twin' are:

  • Dr. Edward Gomez, Education Director for the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network;
  • Astronomer and historian Martin Griffiths from the University of Glamorgan;
  • and Dr. Colin Wilson, an atmospheric physicist at Oxford University and Operations Scientist for the European Space Agency's Venus Express Mission.

We also hear from Dr. Huw Davies from the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Cardiff University. He believes that Venus was formed by a head-on mega-collision of two planets. And science communicator and explorer Huw James talks about his plans to watch the transit across the midnight sun in Svalbard in the Arctic Circle.


Transit of Venus

Venus Express

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