Kansans Witness Transit Of Venus From Backyard

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

For about three and a half hours this evening, Martin Ratcliffe's backyard in Valley Center, turned into an observatory.

Family and friends gathered together to witness Venus transiting the sun.

"When I grew up as a kid, being interested in astronomy, 2012 seemed an awful long time away. Here we are, looking at the transit right here," said Ratcliffe, an adjunct teacher at Wichita State University and contributing editor for Astronomy Magazine.

The transit happened twice this century. Ratcliffe missed the transit in 2004 because it was not visible from Kansas.

"For 2012, I really wanted to make sure I would see it, but I also knew it was visible from here. I thought if the weather prospects look good, let's do it here. We couldn't ask for a better day," said Ratcliffe.

Using a telescope built in the 1880's, family and friends got to see what looked like a speck on the face of the sun, as Venus made the transit.

"It's crazy to think that the little star that we see in the sky every day is so much bigger than us. Everything that's on Earth is just tiny compared to everything that's beyond," said Victoria Ratcliffe, daughter.

The next transit of Venus will occur in December 2117.

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