Transit of Venus
June 8, 2004

Dear friends,

Please consider joining Nomi and me as we observe the Transit of Venus next Tuesday morning, June 8, 2004, at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a transit is when a planet visibly moves across the face of the Sun. From here on Earth, we can observe the transit of only the two inner planets, Mercury and Venus.

But transits can be rare. The transit of Venus only takes place about twice every 120 years. The last transit was in 1882, and the next one will be on June 6, 2012. If you miss that one, you'll have to wait until 2117 for the next.

Unfortunately for those of us in the United States, the 2004 transit is going to take place from roughly 1:19 AM to 7:23 AM EDT. That means that we'll miss most of it. However, with sunrise at roughly 5:07 AM, the final part of the transit, including Third Contact and Fourth Contact, will be observable. Assuming the weather is good, that is, but the current prediction is for a clear and beautiful sunrise that morning.

And the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has graciously offered to open its observatory for transit viewing that morning, and that's where Nomi and I will be. We're planning to go even is the sky is cloudy, as they'll also be showing live webcasts of the transit from parts of the world where the Sun will be visible for the whole event. So, if you're willing to wake up before dawn to see an event that will only happen twice in your lifetime, meet us there at 5 AM and be a part of history.

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