Hubble to Use Moon as Mirror to See Venus Transit

This mottled landscape showing the impact crater Tycho is among the most violent-looking places on our moon. Astronomers didn’t aim NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to study Tycho, however. The image was taken in preparation to observe the transit of Venus across the sun’s face on June 5-6.

Hubble cannot look at the sun directly, so astronomers are planning to point the telescope at Earth’s moon, using it as a mirror to capture reflected sunlight and isolate the small fraction of the light that passes through Venus’s atmosphere. Imprinted on that small amount of light are the fingerprints of the planet’s atmospheric makeup.

As the transit of Venus approaches, have your students use transit light curve data gathered by the Kepler mission to calculate the size of planets in other solar systems. To complete this lesson, students determine if these planets are in habitable zones. To gain access to Algebraic Equations: Transit Tracks—Finding Habitable Planets, visit the NES Virtual Campus.

To read more and view Hubble’s images of the moon’s impact crater Tycho, visit: