- Published on 29 May 2012
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Boswell Observatory open for public sky-viewing
The public is invited to come to Boswell Observatory at Doane College today (Tuesday) to view the rare transit of Venus. The observatory will open for tours and sky-viewing beginning at 4 p.m., and remain open until after sunset.
Venus will cross the sun, beginning for the United States, in the late afternoon. The transit will take place over several hours. This event has occurred just seven times since the invention of the telescope.
This rare phenomenon takes place in pairs that are eight years apart, but are separated by more than 100 years. The last transit was in 2004, so this 2012 event will be last opportunity to see this alignment until December, 2117.
Visitors will see this rare planetary alignment through the historic 1884 Boswell Observatory telescope, and also through modern telescopes set up near the observatory. People are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and a picnic, and settle in for the progression of the planet as it moves across the sun.
During the transit process, people can tour Boswell Observatory. The building is now a museum, however the original telescope is still functional, and used regularly for sky-viewing.
There are also several original pieces of antique weather and time-keeping equipment housed in the building, that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The transit of Venus will be seen from the late afternoon until dark, and then visitors may view the night sky. Dr. Mark Plano Clark, Doane professor of physics and astronomy, will direct the sky-viewing.
Boswell Observatory is located on the west edge of campus just east of 10th Street and Boswell Avenue. The observatory will be open even if the weather is inclement. Call college historian, Janet Jeffries, at 826-8234 or (402) 310-4252 for more information.