MARSHALL - If you missed it Tuesday afternoon, you can always catch the next one, in 2117.
Southwest Minnesota State University physics professor Ken Murphy hosted a viewing of the transit of Venus across the face of the sun on Tuesday evening.
"There are basically three ways to view it today - with a telescope through filters, through mylar glasses and through these tubes," Murphy said, pointing to a long cardboard tube capped at both ends. "This tube is a pinhole projector you point at the sun and look through this hole at the screen at the other end."
Photo by Steve Browne
A crowd of about 50 people gathered at Southwest Minnesota State University to watch the once-in-a-lifetime transit of Venus, as the planet crossed the face of the sun. The next transit will be in 2117.
The transit began a little after 5 p.m. and continued to about 11 p.m., though in this region it was only visible until sunset.
"I've always loved astronomy ever since I was a kid," said SMSU geology professor Tom Dilley. "I had a telescope and we lived in Alaska where the viewing is spectacular, even with just binoculars."
Dilley's young son, Sean, accompanied his father to the viewing.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime event, it's just exciting," Sean Dilley said.
Transits of Venus are historically important, according to Murphy.
"In 1769, Captain Cook journeyed to Tahiti and set up an observatory," Murphy said. "By observing the transit of Venus, they were able to measure the size of the solar system and the relative distances of the planets for the first time."
Following the viewing, there was a planetarium show about the event, produced by Bays Mountain Planetarium in Tennessee. The program was sponsored by the SMSU Environmental Awareness Club.