As Dick Dietz set up telescopes, the professor of Astronomy and Physics hoped the weather would cooperate to allow viewing of an astronomical event that won't recur until 2117.
Members of the university and Greeley communities waited in anticipation at Bishop-Lehr Hall on Tuesday, June 6, to see the planet Venus pass in front of the sun.
They wouldn't leave disappointed.
Around 5 p.m., the sky on the western horizon cleared, providing an unimpeded view of the sun and Venus. A line formed behind one of three telescopes, shrouded by a mylar solar filter for safe viewing, to get an up-close view of the transit.
The Transit of Venus occurs in pairs and then doesn't happen again for another century. The first transit of this century's pair passed through on June 8, 2004. Dietz said the Transit of Venus occurs as a result of how the orbits of Earth and Venus are arranged.
"Venus frequently shows up around the sun in the sky but usually goes north or south of it, not in front of it," Dietz said. "This is the only chance we'll get to see the Transit of Venus in our lifetimes, and I wanted to provide people the opportunity to see something not everyone is able to see."
Observers could see Venus through one of three telescopes, or they could look directly at the sun with a special pair "Eclipse Shades" safe for solar viewing. Dietz and the UNC Physics team were also able to connect one telescope to a tiny television set, projecting the planet Venus and the top-right corner of the sun onto the TV.
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A Brief History of the Transit of Venus