FAIRFIELD — The L.C. Bates Museum staff is hoping the stars are shining early Tuesday evening.

One star in particular — the sun.

People who want to see Venus traveling in front of the sun are invited to watch the rare astronomical event from the museum on the Good Will-Hinckley campus on U.S. Route 201.

Museum staff will provide eclipse glasses and telescopes with solar filters so that visitors can safely observe the occurrence, which will not happen again for 105 years, in December 2117.

Deborah Staber, museum director, invited the public to view the transit of Venus with one of four telescopes behind the museum on the campus.

Provided weather cooperates, the event will be visible from 6:09 p.m. until the sun sets at 8:20 p.m.

“We’re excited to see it,” Staber said. “It won’t happen again in our lifetimes.”

In addition to providing safety glasses, the museum will give out NASA posters, informational handouts and pages for children to color.

Two area experts will attend to answer questions.

Murray Campbell, a retired professor of physics and astronomy at Colby College, and John Stetson, an adjunct faculty member at Central Maine Community College and astronomical photographer, will be available to provide information and perspective, Staber said.

In previous centuries, astronomers used data acquired during the transit to calculate the distance between Earth and the sun, which NASA said is approximately 93 million miles.

Budding mathematicians can bring a scientific calculator and their knowledge of vertical angles and trigonometric ratios to try to do the same tonight.

Staber said if cloudy skies obscure outside viewing, people can watch NASA’s live digital stream of the transit inside the museum.

She invited visitors to gather between 5:30-5:45 p.m. for the program, earlier if they’d like to tour various museum exhibits.

In addition to this astronomical occurrence, which lasts until Wednesday at 12:49 a.m., a total solar eclipse will occur Nov. 13-14.

Beth Staples — 861-9252

[email protected]


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