High clouds in Juneau today (Tuesday) mostly obscured the roughly twice-a-century transit of Venus across the sun.
“If the sun was the size of a beach ball, Venus moving across the sun would be about the size of nickel,” Marie Drake Planetarium Director of Programs Ken Fix says, describing what could have been seen from Juneau, if there were no clouds blocking out the sun. “So, you’re actually going to be able to see it, even if you just use a filter and you don’t look through a telescope.”
Fix and other amateur astronomers from the planetarium were at Marine Park during most of the 7-hour transit, waiting for a break in the clouds. But alas, despite a few teases, the sun never made much of an appearance.
Venus actually comes between the Earth and the sun five times every eight years. But because their orbits are on different planes, Fix says Venus usually misses passing over the sun’s disk as seen from Earth.
“Venus’ orbit differs from ours by about three and a quarter degrees,” he says. “And it’s only when we lap each other, with Venus on the inside track on the same side of the sun, that we have the possibility of a transit. But we have to be on the same zero line reference to the sun. And that only happens every 105 or 113 years, depending on what part of the cycle we’re in.”
That means it won’t happen again until December 2117. Maybe the sun will be out in Juneau by then.
- The Juneau Assembly declined to pass a broaden sales tax exemption for seniors. Opposition from businesses prodded elected officials to refer the initiative back to committee.
- Fines for pet owners whose for critters scooped up by animal control officers have gone up. The fees hadn't been adjusted for nearly 17 years.
- Local education officials are applying for state money to replace and repair leaky roofs at several Juneau schools. About $5 million is coming in over the next five years earmarked for school maintenance from sales tax money that voters approved in the Oct. 3 election.
- "They’re calling it GTA, grand theft Anchorage, right now," said Rep. Lora Reinbold, who says she wants to repeal Senate Bill 91. "It’s outrageous, what’s going on in the city that I love.”