Venus Transit 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012, 5-11pm

The OSU Astronomy Department will be holding a public program to observe the Transit of Venus across the Sun on Tuesday, June 5, 2012, from 5:00-11:00pm on the OSU Main Campus in Columbus Ohio.  We will be holding a number of activities to mark this rare event, including transit observing with specially equipped solar telescopes for safe viewing, public talks, and a post-transit star party to observe planets and star clusters in the spring sky.

This event is free and open to the public.

It is extremely dangerous to view the Sun with the naked eye without proper equipment! Permanent eye damage or blindness can result.

Come safely observe the transit under the supervision of professional astronomers at Ohio State.

No tickets or advanced reservations are required: admission is first-come/first-served.  In the event of overflow, we will have astronomers available in Smith Lab 5025 (just across the hall from the Planetarium) to answer questions and with live feeds from NASA showing the transit unfold from ground-based and space-borne observatories.

Children are welcome, but must be accompanied and supervised by an adult. Because of steep stairs and confined spaces on our rooftop observatory, this program is not suitable for children under the age of 5. We apologize for any inconvenience.

The Transit of Venus

On June 5, 2012, the planet Venus will transit the face of the Sun as seen from the Earth.  This is an extremely rare occurence: Venus transits occur every 105 or 121 years in pairs 8 years apart.  The current transit season began in June 8, 2004, and this is the second and final transit of the pair.  The next Venus Transit will not occur until December 11, 2117, 105.5 years from now, so this is your last chance to view this literally once in a lifetime astronomical event.

From Columbus, Ohio, the transit will begin a little after 6:00pm when Venus just starts to touch the limb of the Sun ("First Contact"), and be fully inside the limb of the Sun ("Second Contact") about 18 minutes later.  From there, we will only be able to watch about 2 hours of the 6.5 hour transit before the Sun sets at 8:58pm.

Venus Transit Programs

Pre-Transit Public Talk: 5:00pm, McPherson Lab Room 2015

OSU Astronomy Professor Richard Pogge will present a brief public talk on Venus Transits at 5pm in McPherson Laboratory room 2015 (2nd floor, south end of the building).  This talk lasts 40 minutes and be followed by questions.

A repeat of the talk will be given at 8pm in Smith Lab Room 1009

Venus Transit Observing: 6:00-8:50pm, Smith Lab Roof

We will have specially-equipped solar viewing telescopes with high-performance safety filters setup on the rooftop observatory of Smith Laboratory for public viewing under the supervision of astronomers from the OSU Astronomy Department.

Post-Transit Public Talk: 8:00pm, Smith Lab Room 1009

OSU Astronomy Professor Richard Pogge will present a repeat of a brief public talk on Venus Transits at 8pm in Smith Laboratory room 1009.  This talk lasts 40 minutes and be followed by time for questions.  During the talk we will be setting up night-time telescopes on the roof of Smith Lab and opening up our 12-inch telescope dome for night-time viewing of planets and stars.

Night-time Viewing Program: 9:00-11:00pm

Starting at 9pm the sun will have set, and Saturn and Mars will be rising in the eastern sky.  View these planets, nebulae, and ancient star clusters through our telescopes, learn about the constellations, and enjoy the spring night sky.

If the weather is cloudy, we'll have OSU astronomy professors and graduate students on hand in Smith Lab 5024 to answer questions and view live feeds of the Venus transit provided by NASA.


Visitor parking is available in the Tuttle Park Place parking garage. Most of the OSU campus is a pedestrian zone so there is little or no parking next to Smith Laboratory.  Smith Laboratory is located between 18th and 19th Avenues on the OSU Main Campus in Columbus Ohio.  There is no parking near Smith Laboratory.


While the Smith Laboratory Planetarium is accessible by elevator, we apologize that the observatory roof area is only accessible by multiple flights of steep stairs (Smith Lab is an old, pre-ADA building dating from the 1950s).


Please contact one of the event organizers for more information

Prof. Jennifer Johnson (
Prof. Richard Pogge (

Bad Weather Program

Because central Ohio weather is unpredictable, please watch this page leading up to the event for weather cancellation notices. In case of bad weather, we will still hold the public lectures and Q&A sessions while hosting the live NASA feed of the Venus Transit, but we will not set up any telescopes on the roof.