Thousands crowd to watch phenomenal Venus cross-over
By Kim Eun-ji
A dozen people gathered around a telescope Wednesday, hoping the clouds would clear so they could catch a glimpse of Venus traversing the sun’s surface. Some ran to a nearby booth set up by high school students when the sun revealed itself again.
More than 7,500 people crowded at Gwacheon National Science Museum south of Seoul to observe the extraordinary sight of Venus making its way across the sun from 7:09 a.m. to 1:49 p.m.
“It was great to see something that people wouldn’t be able to see for another 105 years,” said Ko Kun, 9, who traveled two hours from Wonju, east of Seoul, to visit the museum.
The phenomenon itself is a rare case that gains international attention, explained Dr. Lee Kang-hwan, a researcher at the museum who began planning for the large-scale event earlier this year.
Korea was one of few countries where people gained the once-in-a-life-time chance. The passage was the last one in the 21st century, as it will not happen until 2117.
“We planned it so the students would be at the center of the whole event. We thought it would be more enjoyable and effective [for the children] if similar aged students were in charge,” Lee said.
The day-long event consisted of eight 20-minute lectures and activity booths set up by a dozen high school astronomy clubs. Student volunteers were in charge of helping kids make filtered glasses and explaining the observation.
“I can’t even remember how many people have come,” said Kim Min-jae, 18, who has been explaining the cross-over for six hours starting from 8 a.m. “It’s amazing that we can observe the whole course in Korea … it makes me even more interested in science.”
Kim was not alone in being excited as a mother of a 12-year-old exclaimed at the sight she saw.
“It was entrancing,” recalled Park Jae-hee, 44. “I didn’t know about it until my son came home and told me we have to go. I would have regretted it if I hadn’t come.”