[ASC-list] School students internationally to measure Transit of Venus?

Will Rifkin willrifkinphd at gmail.com
Thu Mar 29 21:53:17 UTC 2012

For teachers or others who work in schools, 

Here is a request from Germany for an international collaboration among school students to provide measurment of the Transit of Venus in early June.  

If you are interested, please contact the Victorian-based uncle of the teacher in Germany.  Uncle is Gary Pausenberger at pausen at bigpond.com or 03 9592 0015 of Brighton, VIC.  Or, contact the teacher, Rudolf Pausenberger, directly at rpausenberger at online.de.  

My contact forwarded a letter that includes diagrams (not attached).  The text of the letter is below; I can relay the PDF with diagrams.  Aside from that, I have no further information on the project.  

Of course, if it is too late to organise for this year, perhaps next time ...  ;-)  


Lauf, 16.1.2012

Dear Colleague,

On 5th June 2012, there is an easy possibility to measure the distance from the earth to the sun.
For the next similar constellation you have to wait for 105 years until 2117. Therefore I suggest
an intercontinental pupils project with the partner schools of the CJT-Gymnasium Lauf.

On 5th or 6th June 2012, it will be possible to see Venus passing in front of the bright sun,
the “Transit of Venus”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transit_of_Venus .

From different places on earth you will see Venus at different places in front of the sun’s disk.
By measuring this small difference and with little calculation of Kepler’s and simularity laws
we could determine the mutual distances of the paticipating astronomical objects.

The easiest way is to take appropriate photographs and analyze venus’ trace (cf. pictures d and e).
Would you like to facilitate this unique project by taking the photographs?

We have a partner school in India and in Canada and with an Australian team we will get good positions.
To be sure we need more than two participants: If one has clouds we don’t get pictures there.

So I would like to ask you to find some kind of school-related project or your pupils work together with
a local amateur astronomer group that is able to take some photographs of the sun through a telescope.
I suggest to take always two photographs with the same alignment in about two minutes time difference.
With the movement of the sun within the two minutes we will define the path of the sun and the coordinates.
I did a test with sunspots by projecting the sun’s image onto a millimeter paper and photograph it
using a tripod as you can see on the picture c).

You may test your equipment with sunspots first as well, as you can see on picture a and b)
and you may want to clean your optical square, if you are using a setup like picture c).
If you have any questions please contact me at rpausenberger at online.de .

I will tell you as soon as I get a response from our other partner-schools.
If there is interest for this school-project on different continents, we will plan it in more detail.

Thank you very much
Yours sincerely
Rudolf Pausenberger



Will Rifkin, PhD
Exec. Mgr., SaMnet  
Assoc Prof, School of Physics, U of Sydney 

Director - ALTC New Media for Science Project  
Administered in the Faculty of Science, University of New South Wales  

willrifkinphd at gmail.com  
+61 402 612 586    

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