June 6, 2012- A wonderful experience of observational astronomy to the public had happened especially in Balagtas, Orion, Bataan. Specifically, the students, faculty, parents, and staff of ONHS (Orion National High School) had witnessed one of the rarest predictable astronomical phenomena that repeats every a hundred and more years with pairs of transits eight years apart – the Transits of Venus.
The Transit of Venus is one of the most awaited events that scientists, astronomers and science enthusiasts have experience to observe. When Venus passes directly between earth and the sun, we could see the distant planet as a small dot gliding slowly across the face of the sun. Historically, this rare alignment is how we measured the size of our solar system. Fortunately, Philippines is one of the very few countries where these very rare phenomena can be completely observed. It is also remarkable that only three areas in the country where observation and experiencing astronomy first hand had taken place namely: PAG –ASA- Astronomical Observatory, UP Diliman; Daet Camarines Norte; and Orion National High School (ONHS) in Orion, Bataan. The ONHS students and other viewers in the area made used of welder’s glass #10 and #12, together with the home – made dobsonian reflecting telescope, which was lend by Mr. Ezekiel Roel G. Rodriguez, a passionate amateur astronomer from UP Diliman and a resident of Putingbuhangin, Orion Bataan.
The transit lasted for six hours and thirty-nine minutes that started at 6:12 in the morning and has completed its travel at 12:49 in the afternoon. The transits occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. After 2012, the next transits of Venus will occur on December 2117 and December 2125.Venus transits are historically of great importance as they used to gain the first scientific estimates of the size of the solar system. The observations of the 1639 transit which was combined with the principle of parallax has provided an estimate of the distance between the Sun and the Earth that was more accurate than any other up to that time. In addition, the June 2012 transit has provided scientists with a number of other research opportunities, particularly the refinement of techniques to use in the search for exoplanets. Therefore, this is a rare phenomenon that constituents of Orion made them proud of for having the chance of seeing it!
By: Miguela B. Cayabyab, Master Teacher 1, ONHS