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  CONTACT: Terry Gallagher
PHONE: (313) 593-5518
DATE: June 2, 2004

Public welcome to watch the transit of Venus through telescopes at UM-Dearborn on June 8

DEARBORN---Viewers will be able to watch Venus cross in front of the sun through telescopes at the University of Michigan-Dearborn on the morning of June 8.

Called the "transit of Venus," the astronomical event occurs in pairs separated by several years, and the pairs are separated from the next occurrence by approximately 120 years, according to David Matzke, lecturer in natural sciences at UM-Dearborn.

In the late 19th century, the transit of Venus was a matter of intense international interest as scientists attempted to use their observations to calculate the distance of the Earth to the sun.

The observing session at UM-Dearborn will begin with lunar observations at 5:30 a.m. on June 8. Venus will be visible crossing in front of the sun, relative to our position, when the sun rises at around 6 a.m. and finish its transit at approximately 7:30 a.m.

The observing area is on the fifth floor of the visitor parking structure at the north end of the campus. If the sky is overcast and expected to remain that way, the event will be cancelled. If the session is cancelled, a recorded message will be available at (734) 762-9365 beginning at 4 a.m.

UM-Dearborn's telescopes will have the proper filters to allow safe observations of the sun, Matzke notes. Viewers should remember that it is dangerous to stare at the sun or look at it through binoculars or telescopes that are not equipped with similar filters, he said.





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