14
June
2012
|
04:00 PM
America/New_York

USRA Commemorates the Transit of Venus

On June 5th, humankind saw the last transit of Venus it will see for the next 105 years. To commemorate the celestial event, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) hosted a viewing and reception at the association's office in Washington, D.C. The event featured remarks by USRA President, Fred Tarantino and Morgan State University President, David Wilson, as well as posters describing the transit prepared by scientists from USRA's Lunar and Planetary Institute and students from TC Williams High School. Jim Green, Director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, addressed the guests as the transit commenced. USRA was pleased to host guests, ranging from outstanding undergraduate students from Morgan State to congressional staff.


The transit of Venus is a rare planetary alignment that occurs when Venus passes directly between Earth and the Sun. Viewers on Earth see Venus as a small dot gliding slowly across the face of the Sun. Historically viewed by astronomer-luminaries like Galileo Galilee, Captain James Cook and Benjamin Franklin, this rare alignment allowed early calculations of the size of our Solar System. Planetary scientists use transits to determine atmospheric structure and composition of the planet Venus, and to provide constraints on measurements of extrasolar planets.

Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is an independent, nonprofit research corporation where the combined efforts of in-house talent and university-based expertise merge to advance space science and technology. USRA works across disciplines including biomedicine, astrophysics, and engineering and integrates those competencies into applications ranging from fundamental research to facility management and operations. USRA engages the creativity and authoritative expertise of the research community to develop and deliver sophisticated, forward-looking solutions to Federal agencies and other customers - on schedule and within budget.