Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Transit of Venus: CAUTION!

A rare astronomical phenomena will take place next week on June 5 when Venus passes in front of the sun in what's called the "Transit of Venus". Because it's too dangerous to look directly at the sun to see the planet (a teeny black blob) cross the sun's axis, we encourage you instead to read two new books about this twice-a-century (always 8 years apart) spectacle:
Mark Anderson's "The Day the World Discovered the Sun: an Extraordinary Story of Scientific Adventure and the Race to Track the Transit of Venus"
Andrea Wulf's "Chasing Venus: the Race to Measure the Heavens"
Both tell the exciting tales of when18th century scientists competed, in  1761 &1769, to use the transit of Venus to discover the physical dimensions of the solar system and refine the methods of discovering longitude at sea.

In this spirit of scientific adventure, we're also please to announce that the NH Astronomical Society has donated a powerful 4.5" Orion StarBlast telescope (value $350) to the Children's Room at the library! This telescope will soon be available for families to borrow for one week. We've been strongly cautioned to not let the telescope go out until after the transit of Venus (some might be "tempted" to steal a peek at the sun which would ruin not only your eyes but the telescope's lenses too) but please call the Children's Room, 516-6052, if you'd like to reserve the telescope to use at your home for a week! You must be an adult borrower in good standing (no fines!) and agree to some fairly strict instructions for using, caring for, and returning the telescope.
This should be a (Star)Blast!!! Enjoy!

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