Onlookers Gather at Thomas Jefferson for Rare Celestial Event
About 100 people gathered on the field outside Thomas Jefferson Middle School to witness the transit of Venus on Tuesday.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, about 100 people, including students from the Thomas Jefferson Middle School Astronomy Club, their families and town residents, gathered at the field outside of TJ to witness one of the rarest of predictable celestial events: a transit of Venus.
A transit of Venus occurs when Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun in such a way that we can see Venus's silhouette backlit by the Sun's brilliant light. It last happened in 2004, but it won't happen again until 2117.
This year's transit of Venus was actually the impetus for the formation of TJ's Astronomy Club, which began earlier this year when seventh grade student Celine Fathali turned in an assignment about the transit of Venus.
"Students were very excited about this very rare phenomenon and expressed interest in watching it," TJ teacher and Astronomy Club sponsor Nicole Rios wrote in an email. "Thus began the Astronomy Club."
In advance of the transit, TJ students sold 500 of the solar viewers necessary to protect against eye damage when viewing a solar event.
Although heavy cloud cover threatened Tuesday night, Rios said skygazers still caught a few fleeting glimpses of the rare transit.
"Overall, it was a very enjoyable evening," she said.