Friday, February 06, 2004
Venus and Phoebe Peace, all. I'm looking forward to the week of June 6th, and not just because it might be the first week of summer vacation. For the first time in 121 years, Venus will pass directly between the earth and the sun. There's a good bit of fascinating history behind the transits of Venus, which helped astronomers determine the distance from the earth to the sun. Notably, the great English explorer William Cook was dispatched to the South Pacific, in part, to view the 1769 event. Sadly, Kansas City is nearly on the sidelines for 2004 happening; I will need to wake at dawn, find a clear horizon to set up my small telescope and projector. Obligatory caution: looking at the sun, even at sunrise, is generally not a good idea, unless you like fried retina for breakfast. Another comes up on 2012. If I miss these two, I will need to wait until the eve of my 159th birthday to catch the third. For her first appearance on my blog, please welcome Phoebe. Three days after the Venus event, the Cassini probe will pass very close to this unusual moon of Saturn. I hope to see the crisp, new photos of Phoebe on this web site. But I will also remember my struggles for domination of the solar system over my friend Christopher in Illinois, and the times when control of Phoebe and her sisters were the focus of our Solar Quest marathons.