Transit of Venus celebrated at museum

Emma Small (4) and  brother Sean (6) transform paper lamp shades into Venus-like orange planetary...
Emma Small (4) and brother Sean (6) transform paper lamp shades into Venus-like orange planetary models at the Otago Museum yesterday. Photo by Jane Dawber.
Many youngsters and their families swarmed into the Otago Museum yesterday for an afternoon of "astronomical adventures" to celebrate tomorrow's transit of Venus.

Ryan Patrick (10), who was visiting from Motueka, enjoyed presentations by museum science communicator Amadeo Enriquez-Ballestero, who conducted experiments demonstrating the extremely dense nature of the carbon dioxide-rich Venusian atmosphere.

Mr Enriquez-Ballestero warned those observing the planet's transit across the sun from 10.15am tomorrow to use special filters to protect their eyes against blinding damage.

Organisers estimated more than 400 people participated in the afternoon of events celebrating the planet, which was named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty.

Youngsters could also form their own planetary impact craters in a large sandbox nearby or paint paper lamp shades an orange colour to create miniature Venus-like model planets.

Mr Enriquez-Ballestero said the public response was "amazing".

Others had watched demonstrations of safe solar viewing through telescopes, held outside the museum.

• Specially protected telescopes are being made available at the Beverly Begg Observatory, in Robin Hood Park, Dunedin, from 10.15am until about 4pm tomorrow, for people to be able to observe the transit safely.

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