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Transit of Venus Program

Chuck Bueter and Art Klinger

[The following text was said by Chuck Bueter prior to his and Art Klinger's showing videotape excerpts from the forthcoming Transit of Venus program.  The program debuted October 23, 2003 at the Shafran Planetarium in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History during the 2003 Annual Conference of the Great Lakes Planetarium Association (GLPA).]

The GLPA will be mailing to each of its members a DVD of the Transit of Venus program.  As a planetarian, you can run the show’s narration, soundtrack, video, and even all of the images from the DVD.  Or you can order slides through David Leake.  If you have no video projector, still images substitute for animations and video segments.

As Art and I prepared the Toyota TAPESTRY grant, we aimed to make a hybrid program for multiple users.  Though the narration is geared toward the planetarium audience, the DVD is almost a stand-alone product as well, so you may forward the DVD on to librarians, astronomy clubs, teachers and other educators in your community. 

An accompanying CD contains the script, notes, all of the images used in the show (as individual jpegs), and the photo credits.  Frankly, I think the images are the most remarkable part of this resource.  The parties that contributed images to this program did so with the understanding that their images are to be used for non-profit educational purposes only.  I have found these people are very generous with the use of their images, if you only ask.  Please respect the copyrights of our contributors—their original material is not for re-sale. 

New images, video segments, and other planetarium materials are still in the works.  These supplements will soon be accessible from the transit of Venus clearinghouse we have set up at the Paper Plate Education website at  We have also organized many of the best Internet resources and have uploaded original material to  We invite you to link to these websites. 

There are some portions of the show where you can stop it and go live to point out constellations and do other participatory things.  Those activities are particularly valuable for the portable planetariums.  You may want to practice the parallax demonstration with the audience before you start the show.  And unlike sky shows produced by other parties, we put no restrictions on how you edit, alter, or improve this program. 

With Mars this year, we’ve seen how the public embraces unique astronomical events.  I am convinced the transit of Venus merits the effort of putting a sky show on the rack, giving lectures, and hosting public viewing that morning.  Your students can even time the transit and contribute their data over the Internet to global observing projects. 

The transit of Venus is an excellent opportunity for fans of multi-disciplinary curriculum.  It’s got it all—a rich history; practical applications of math; pure astronomy; geography; social issues like nationalism and global cooperation; and the philosophical questions of life on other worlds.  Bottom line: the transit of Venus is a great story, and great stories make great planetarium experiences for your visitors.

Since you all will get a copy of the program, we don’t feel it is necessary to show the whole thing now.  To minimize the work load for our conference hosts, we are simply going to project it as a video and leave the planetarium applications to your fertile imaginations.

One of the music pieces has been embargoed until it debuts at a public performance in early-November.  The Virginia Grand Military Band has re-orchestrated John Philip Sousa’s Transit of Venus March—yes, Sousa wrote a Transit of Venus March—but Loras Schissel kindly has given us permission to show you this sneak preview. 


Copyright ©2003-2008 Chuck Bueter.  All rights reserved.