On June 5, thousands gathered at Varsity Stadium to witness the last transit of Venus they would see in their lifetimes. Every visitor received a pair of free transit-viewing glasses and watched from the stands as the planet starting moving across the face of the Sun at 6:04pm.
Visitors also viewed the celestial event through telescopes set up on the track and on the Jumbotron via live feeds from around the world. U of T astronomers, postdocs and grad students were on hand to answer questions. There were planetarium shows, a free public talk and the performance of one act from Canadian playwright Maureen Hunter's Transit of Venus. The event was organized by the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics and many partners within the university, and surpassed everyone's expectations.
(Text by Chris Sasaki and photos by the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics.)
Some of the thousands of transit viewers.
Transit-watchers began lining up hours before the 5:15pm scheduled start time. The line extended west along Bloor Street and down Devonshire Place to beyond the south end of the stadium.
An estimated 5600 transit-viewing glasses were handed out that day.
Dunlap Institute Director James Graham speaking with CBC TV News reporter Ron Charles. (Photo by Howard Yee)
Paul Greenham from the Institute for the History & Philosophy of Science & Technology tells a young visitor about the telescope she is about to use to view the transit: a 200-year-old Gregorian reflector from the U of T's Scientific Instruments Collection.
The transit brought smiles to the faces of excited visitors.
Transit-palooza: Transit-viewers enjoying the transit, the telescopes, the music, the free door prizes and the perfect weather.
Visitors viewed the transit streamed live to the stadium's Jumbotron from locations around the world including the U of T's 8" refractor atop the McLennan Physical Laboratory Building.
Howard Yee, Chair of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics with Faculty of Arts and Science Dean Meric Gertler. (Photo by Caz Zyvatkauskas)
Organizers set up the planetarium of the Dunlap Institute and Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics in Varsity Arena for six sold-out shows.
Canadian composer and conductor Victor Davies (right) spoke to guests before they headed into the stands. Davies composed the opera Transit of Venus, based on Canadian playwright Maureen Wright's play of the same name.
The CBC's arts reporter Deana Sumanac takes a break from the arts for a little science.
Organizers were glad to have as a sponsor, SkyNews: The Canadian Magazine of Astronomy & Stargazing.
Harold Battersby, 90, made a special effort to attend the Varsity Stadium event.
The transit as seen through the H-alpha telescope. (Photo by Ernst de Mooij)