On June 5, the entire world will be out Chasing Venus.
Those who have read the back label of our Chasing Venus Sauvignon Blanc know the story of Captain James Cook’s secret voyage to claim the Southern Continent for the Queen of England, and the public political spin that he was out Chasing Venus. There was actual truth to that spin. What he was chasing was the Transit of Venus, an astrological phenomenon that occurs eight years apart then not again for more than a century.
Every 120 years or so Venus passes directly between the earth and sun and can be seen as a tiny speck slowly gliding across our brightest star. The last time the sun and planets aligned in this way was in 2004. The next alignment will be Tuesday, June 5, 2012, then not again until 2117. Safe to say, we won’t have a chance to see the Transit of Venus again in our lifetime.
That dot floating across the sun may be tiny, but it has had huge historical significance. Scientists have been chasing Venus for centuries as a method of measuring the size of the universe. Although there is evidence that the Mayans knew of this nano eclipse, no one could actually see it until the telescope was invented. After the first observation of the Transit of Venus in 1639, Kings and Queens began to dispatch expeditions each century to various parts of the world to make the mathematical calculations that would expand our knowledge of outer space, including Captain Cook’s in 1769. These days there is no need for us to chase Venus across the high seas or even ruin our eyes gazing at the setting sun; it may come as no surprise that a free Venus Transit phone app is now available courtesy of Astronomers without Borders.
The evening of June 5, 2012, will be our once-in-a-lifetime chance to follow the centuries old tradition of chasing Venus. But we can do it in 21st century style by grabbing our smart phone, our favorite lounge chair and a nice chilled glass of Chasing Venus Sauvignon Blanc.