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Unless you expect to be alive in 105 years, you won’t want to miss the June 5/6 transit of Venus, when, over the course of 6 hours, the planet makes a rare dance by crossing in front of the surface of the sun. The appeal of this unique phenomenon has bridged the gap between art and science. It was the basis for a military brass band march, as well as a play and an opera.
One man who will be making the most of this event is renowned transit of venus authority Jay Pasachoff. Jay M. Pasachoff is the Director of the Hopkins Observatory as well as Chair of the Astronomy Department and Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College. He comments frequently on the status of astronomy and science education, and is the author of textbooks in astronomy, physics, mathematics, and various other sciences.
Pasachoff has an article in the May 2012 issue of Physics World about transits, and he sits down with Justin Trottier to discuss the history, science, and deep significance, of the Transit of Venus. After exploring the amazing discoveries that can be made from such a deceptively simple event, the two discuss Pasachoff’s varied career which has taken him into nooks all over the field of astronomy. They also touch on pseudo-astronomy, what’s going wrong in science education, and how it can be saved.
More information and details about Transit of Venus events near you are available at http://venustransit.nasa.gov/
In Current in Space, we discuss blows to the favourd theories of dark matter, a historic flight that could open space to the commercial sector, and surprising plans already underway for mining beyond Earth.
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