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Opportunity is astronomical

February 22 2012

Opportunity is astronomical

One of astronomy's rarest events occurs this year and Queensland schools are being invited to observe, participate - and potentially win prizes.

On 6 June 2012 the planet Venus will pass directly between the Earth and the Sun, appearing as a small black disc slowly moving across the Sun. This has only occurred six times since 1639 and this year's transit will be the last in our lifetime.

Resources are being provided to enable students to re-enact a great scientific endeavour and in doing so learn valuable lessons in science, mathematics, history and geography.

The surveying and spatial sciences industry and the Astronomical Association of Queensland (AAQ) have joined forces to launch a dedicated website, www.transitofvenus.com.au, with links to education resources and a competition in which schools can win one of 100 solarscopes to observe the event.

The not-for-profit Transit of Venus Project is also offering participating schools the chance to purchase a solarscope, valued at $150, for the subsidised price of $80. The scopes can also be used for observing sunspots and solar eclipses.

To enter the competition, schools must undertake a simple simulation exercise and log their details on the competition webpage before 15 March. Purchase orders must be made by the same date, with details of how to order on the same competition webpage.

The Transit of Venus Project is bringing the program to schools to educate students about the application of maths and science in understanding astronomical events.

Students can participate by:

  • Observing the Transit of Venus first-hand
  • Undertaking activities based on maths, science, history and geography principles and referenced to the National Curriculum to understand the event and predict the time and course Venus will take across the Sun as experienced at their school
  • Comparing the predicted results with their actual observation.

Staff and students are reminded to never look directly at the sun as this can result in eyesight damage. For further information on viewing the transit event safely, visit the CSIRO Safely Viewing the Sun website.