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Posted June 4, 2012

Space the Final Frontier

University of Waterloo hosts rare astronomical event

WATERLOO - Next week, the planet Venus will pass across the face of the sun, and the University of Waterloo is inviting the public to experience it with professors of physics and astronomy, students, and members of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

This exciting and rare phenomenon referred to as the transit of Venus last occurred in 2004. After it takes place on June 5, it will not happen again until 2117. The first visible transit is expected to occur at 6:03 p.m., and the second at 6:23 p.m.

Activities are planned from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on the B.C. Matthews Hall green at the Waterloo campus. Waterloo physics professor Gretchen Harris will present a free public lecture in the Arts and Lecture Hall 116 from 5:00 to 5:45 p.m. entitled, “Observing the Transits of Venus: Why and How Astronomers Risked Their Lives.”

Although the transit of Venus can be seen with an unaided eye, special precautions including the use of transit glasses are necessary to witness the event without injury to the eye from looking directly into the sun. Guests will receive free transit glasses while supplies last. They may also witness the event through solar telescopes and a live video feed. There will also be astronomers among the crowd to field any questions.

There are a limited number of tickets for this event. Please register at

Although the lecture will take place rain or shine, severe cloud cover or rain may lead to the cancellation of the viewing portion. Please check the registration website after 9 a.m. on June 5 for updates.

For more information on the transit of Venus, please visit the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s transit of Venus site.

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