June 6, 2012
Normally, I’m up on celestial viewing opportunities, but somehow I totally missed yesterday’s transit of Venus, the very rare occurrence of Venus passing directly between earth and the sun. The Kalamazoo News has a cool feature on the viewing of yesterday’s Venus transit that explains:
Tuesday’s transit marked the second and last time it will happen in the 21st century, with the first being on June 8, 2004. The transit was visible just after 6 until about 9 p.m. on Tuesday.
The historical speck on the sun won’t be seen in earth’s sky again until 2117.
…”Hundreds of years ago they figured out the size of the solar system based on the transit by using math to calculate the size of the sun in relation to Venus. Today is about what it gave to early astronomers.” (Kalamazoo Valley Museum Director Bill McElhone)
NASA notes that transits are still used to gain information from distant solar systems. Check out a ton of great photos in NASA’s Venus Transit Challenge group and don’t miss Brad Worrell’s The Sustainer slideshow!