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The Hetu'u Global Network: Measuring the Distance to the Sun Using the June 5th/6th Transit of Venus
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In the spirit of historic astronomical endeavors, we invited school groups across the globe to collaborate in a solar distance measurement using the rare June 5/6th transit of Venus. In total, we recruited 19 school groups spread over 6 continents and 10 countries to participate in our Hetu'u Global Network. Applying the methods of French astronomer Joseph-Nicolas Delisle, we used individual second and third Venus-Sun contact times to calculate the distance to the Sun. Ten of the sites in our network had amiable weather; 8 of which measured second contact and 5 of which measured third contact leading to consistent solar distance measurements of 152 ± 30 million km and 163 ± 30 million km, respectively. The distance to the Sun at the time of the transit was 152.25 million km; therefore, our measurements are also consistent within 1σ of the known value. The goal of our international school group network was to inspire the next generation of scientists using the excitement and accessibility of a rare astronomical event. In the process, we connected hundreds of participating students representing a diverse, multicultural group with differing political, economic, and racial backgrounds.
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