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It will take Venus about six hours to complete its transit, appearing as a small black dot on the Sun's surface, in an event that will not happen again until 2117.
In this month's Physics World, Jay M Pasachoff, an astronomer at Williams College, Massachusetts, explores the science behind Venus's transit and gives an account of its fascinating history.
Transits of Venus occur only on the very rare occasions when Venus and Earth are in a line with the Sun. At other times Venus passes below or above the Sun because the two orbits are at a slight angle to each other. Transits occur in pairs separated by eight years, with the gap between pairs of transits alternating between 105.5 and 121.5 years -- the last transit was in 2004.
Building on the original theories of Nicolaus Copernicus from 1543, scientists were able to predict and record the transits of both Mercury and Venus in the centuries that followed.
millions of people around the world will be able to see Venus pass across the face of the Sun
Originally posted by seeker11
reply to post by artistpoet
I'm not saying that the movement of the universe has no effect on our planet, that would be silly. From my understanding eclipses can slightly change our weather and have subtle effects on our atmosphere. However, I haven't heard of most eclipses causing catastrophic physical events on earth (I'd be interested in hearing about any that did). However, it seems that people get really riled up about eclipses and perhaps large social events might be more likely to happen around eclipses.
Originally posted by LilDudeissocool
reply to post by MasterGemini
I noticed something tonight. I'm out on my back porch several minutes ago looking over to the east at the Moon. Then I look over to the western sky noticing Venus is directly in line with it at approximate equal distance up from their perspective horizons. I'm thinking, "that's really neat." Then I remembered this thread, and thought, "Venus is centered directly over the spot on the horizon where the Sun set this evening, and that's even neater."
You have really neat threads, MasterGemini.
Originally posted by artistpoet
Unfortunately you will not be able to see it unless you have the right equipment
I would suggest not gazing at the Sun for the 6 hours in order to see Venus for obvious reasons
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.
These observations will mimic a technique that is already being used to sample the atmospheres of giant planets outside our solar system passing in front of their stars. In the case of the Venus transit observations, astronomers already know the chemical makeup of Venus's atmosphere, and that it does not show signs of life on the planet. But the Venus transit will be used to test whether this technique will have a chance of detecting the very faint fingerprints of an Earth-like planet, even one that might be habitable for life, outside our solar system that similarly transits its own star. Venus is an excellent proxy because it is similar in size and mass to our planet.
The astronomers will use an arsenal of Hubble instruments, the Advanced Camera for Surveys, Wide Field Camera 3, and Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, to view the transit in a range of wavelengths, from ultraviolet to near-infrared light. During the transit, Hubble will snap images and perform spectroscopy, dividing the sunlight into its constituent colors, which could yield information about the makeup of Venus's atmosphere.
Hubble will observe the Moon for seven hours, before, during, and after the transit so the astronomers can compare the data. Astronomers need the long observation because they are looking for extremely faint spectral signatures. Only 1/100,000th of the sunlight will filter through Venus's atmosphere and be reflected off the Moon.