Transit of Venus

Next month, people around the globe will have a chance to witness one of the rarest astronomical events – a transit of Venus.

This phenomenon occurs when Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, becoming visible against (and hence obscuring a small portion of) the solar disk. During a transit, Venus can be seen from Earth as a small black disk moving across the face of the Sun.

A transit is similar to a solar eclipse by the Moon. While the diameter of Venus is almost four times that of the Moon, it appears smaller and travels more slowly across the face of the Sun, because it is obviously much farther away from Earth.

The most recent transit was on 8th June 2004, and before that, 6th December 1882. After the 5th June 2012 transit, the next one will not occur until 11th December 2117.

For a map of global visibility during the event, click here. More info can be found at the NASA website and also transitofvenus.org.

Past and future transits of Venus

9th December 1874
6th December 1882
8th June 2004
5th June 2012
11th December 2117
8th December 2125

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One Response to “Transit of Venus”

  1. Richard Fox Says:

    Presumably this transit phenomenon must occur more and more frequently on planets which are further and further distant from the Sun – more rocks to get in the way – though I suppose that’s offset by the fact that the Sun’s size in the skies of planets further out will be progressively smaller (so maybe not?). Then again the other planets themselves will be bigger in some planets’ skies – more solar eclipses? In fact, throw moons into the equation and the situation is exceedingly complex (?). I don’t suppose there’s a dalmatian-type effect when looking at the Sun from any planet. Bet there’s some interesting mathematics associated with all this though …

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