THE Astronomical Observatory at Costitx has organised an “Open Day” today starting at 8.30am, so that all those interested will have the chance to watch the passage of Venus as it crosses in front of the sun. Organisers will make available two Venuscopes and five telescopes with Mylar optic filters. The equipment will be controlled by attendant staff who will explain to visitors the precautions that they will have to take in order to follow the passage of the planet. Visitors will be able to see a “webcam” telescopic image, projected onto three screens in the dome of the planetarium. There will be ongoing commentary throughout the morning, providing information on the transit of Venus across the sun and repeating to viewers, the relevant precautions they need to take. During the week following this rare astronomical event, explanations of the phenomenon will be given at the Majorca Planetarium.
The director of the Astronomic Observatory, Salvador Sánchez, explained that the passages of Venus are very few and far between. The last one occurred in 1882, meaning that there is no person alive today who actually saw it. Owing to the peculiarities of the orbit of Venus, this movement across the sun occurs in pairs, the next being estimated to take place in 2012. On that occasion, however, it will not be visible from Europe. The next one after that will be in 2117. As such, the transit of 8 June 2004 will be Majorca's only opportunity to observe the transit. To make an observation of the sun, Sánchez signalled that the viewer must take great care, because if proper precautions aren't taken, irreversible damage can be done to one's sight. As such, observers must make sure that the method of observation and the equipment utilised are appropriate.