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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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1. Backhaus, U. and Breil, S. 2012, “ Methods of contact times: Mathematical details,” http://www.venus2012.de/venusprojects/contacttimes/details/detailstimes.php.
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6. Short, J. 1761, “ The observations of the internal contact of Venus with the Sun's limb, in the late transit, made in different places of Europe, compared with the time of the same contact observed at the Cape of Good Hope, and the parallax of the Sun from thence determined,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 52, 611.
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http://aip.metastore.ingenta.com/content/aas/journal/aer/11/1/10.3847/AER2012035
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Figures

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Figure 1.

As Venus transits across the surface of the Sun, observers in the Northern Hemisphere would observe Venus transit along a lower projection than observers in the Southern Hemisphere

Image of Figure 2.

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Figure 2.

A face-on view (bottom) of the Earth's and Venus's orbits and points of inferior conjunction, along with a side view (top) of their orbits, which demonstrates the 3.4-degree inclination of Venus's orbit. The dotted line denotes the line of nodes, where Venus's orbit crosses the ecliptic plane. If inferior conjunction occurs along the line of nodes, a transit will occur

Image of Figure 3.

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Figure 3.

Schematic diagram of the four contact points of Venus, as it transits in front of the Sun

Image of Figure 4.

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Figure 4.

A measurement of the impact parameter (p) as the Earth (the small circle) enters into the shadow of Venus (the large circle). The points of first and second contacts are shown

Image of Figure 5.

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Figure 5.

The shadow of Venus moves from right to left in this diagram during the times of first and second contact. The vertical grey lines correspond to values of constant x for the 2012 transit of Venus. (Figure used with permission from Backhaus and Breil 2012, at http://www.venus2012.de/venusprojects/contacttimes/details/detailstime.php)

Image of Figure 6.

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Figure 6.

Locations of school groups participating in a worldwide network to measure the Earth's distance to the Sun using combined observations of the transit of Venus, overlaid on a world visibility map for the transit of Venus (Figure used with permission from NASA at eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/transit12.html). The red indicators mark the locations of the groups that were able to record the time of second contact and/or third contact

Image of Figure 7.

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Figure 7.

(a) Timing measurements of second Venus-Sun contacts taken around the globe (filled circles) along with the values expected for participating school groups where weather prevented viewing (open circles) as derived from van Roode and Mignard (2012). The best fit line to the data and calculated distance to the Sun with uncertainty using the respective contact times are displayed. (b) Timing measurements of third Venus-Sun contacts taken around the globe (filled circles) along with the values expected for participating school groups where weather prevented viewings (open circles) as derived from van Roode and Mignard (2012). The best fit line to the data and calculated distance to the Sun with uncertainty using the respective contact times are displayed

Tables

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Table 1.

Second and third contact times observed across the world

Abstract

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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Scitation: The Hetu'u Global Network: Measuring the Distance to the Sun Using the June 5th/6th Transit of Venus
http://aip.metastore.ingenta.com/content/aas/journal/aer/11/1/10.3847/AER2012035
10.3847/AER2012035
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