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Transit Of Venus On June 5/6 2012


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Well, here's something you don't see every day!

The Transit of Venus, 2012

A transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planet 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. The duration of such transits is usually measured in hours (the transit of 2004 lasted six hours). A transit is similar to a solar eclipse by the Moon. While the diameter of Venus is almost four times that of the Moon, Venus appears smaller, and travels more slowly across the face of the Sun, because it is much farther away from Earth.

Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena. They occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. The periodicity is a reflection of the fact that the orbital periods of Earth and Venus are close to 8:13 and 243:395 commensurabilities.

The next transit of Venus will occur on 5 and 6 June 2012, and will be the last Venus transit this century; the prior transit took place on 8 June 2004. The previous pair of transits were in December 1874 and December 1882. After 2012, the next transits of Venus will be in December 2117 and December 2125.

This upcoming transit will not be visible from everywhere. But most of us here on this board will be able to see at least part of it, weather permitting. Pahoran, for example, if he lives in the western 2/3's of Australia, will be able to see all of it. Those of us in North America will get to see part of it. For more information on where the transit will be visible, see the Wikipedia link above. For an exact computation of the transit for your location, see this link: Local Transit Times.

NOTE CAREFULLY: DON'T LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN!!!

I don't know why this kind of warning is necessary, but the existence of the Darwin Awards proves that there's gotta be someone, somewhere, who will do something stupid, despite all common sense (actually, the fact that people will jump out of perfectly good airplanes that are going to land a few minutes later anyway, proves this).

So, for this event, here are some ideas on how to how to safely observe the transit.

If your location does not make a viewing of this transit possible, you can watch ONLINE using the NASA webcast site for the event.

Edited by Stargazer
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