Spot the transit of Venus from Chile’s Easter Island
This June 5, the remote island with its famed maoi statues will get a two-hour glimpse of Venus as it crosses the face of the Sun.
Friday, June 01, 2012
Travelers enjoy an unmatched view of the astronomical occurrence from Easter Island. (Photo courtesy of Juan Ernesto Jaeger / Sernatur)
It is the one of the rarest predictable phenomena in the universe and if you miss it this June 5, you won’t ever get another chance to see it.
That’s because the transit of Venus occurs in a pattern that repeats itself every 243 years, in a pair of transits separated by eight years, followed by a gap of 121.5 years, then another pair of transits, and another 105.5-year gap.
The last time that Venus crossed the face of the Sun was in 2004 and after this June, the next will be in 2117.
The problem is that this 2012 occurrence can only be viewed from certain locations ringing the Pacific Ocean: northwestern North America, northeastern Asia, New Zealand, eastern Australia and the Pacific islands.
But although mainland Chile will miss out on the phenomenon, the Andean nation’s far-flung territory out in the middle of the Pacific, Easter Island, will be one of the best places in the world to see the 2012 transit of Venus.
From 4 pm local time, Venus’ path will be made visible as it crosses the Sun, and for a whole two hours it will be visible until the last rays of light vanish behind the stone moai statues.
In another fortuitous alignment, the astronomical event will coincide with the 160-year anniversary of Chile’s National Astronomical Observatory, part of the prestigious Astronomy Department (DAS) of the Universidad de Chile.
In celebration of the two events, Easter Island’s anthropological museum, the Museo Antropológico Padre Sebastián Englert, will hold a series of interactive workshops where attendees will learn about the properties of light, the solar system, the moon and its craters and the transit of Venus, before heading out to witness the event with DAS researchers.
The good news for those who can’t make it to the middle of the Pacific is that the event will be broadcast live for free from this web address.