Basic Astronomy

Venus transit on 5/6 th June 2012

Last chance to witness such event in this century

Next transit of Venus is going to take place on 5th and 6th June 2012.

A transit of Venus takes place when Venus passes directly between Earth and the Sun. This alignment is very rare incident. During a transit, Venus can be seen from Earth as a small slowly moving black dot across the face of the Sun. The next transit of Venus will take place on 5 and 6 June 2012.

Venus transit, 6 June 2012
(The 2004 transit of Venus)

Venus transit follows a pattern that repeats every 243 years. Pairs of transits occurs about eight years apart but separated by a long gap of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. The last transit of Venus occurred on 8th June 2004. After June 2012, the next event of Venus transit will occur in December 2117 and December 2125. So, this will be the last transit of Venus to occur in this century and most probably this is the last chance to witness such event in our life time.

The 2004 Venus transit lasted for about six hours.

What is transit of Venus?

When Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, one can see the distant planet as a small dot moving slowly across the face of the Sun.

Safety tips for observing Venus transit

One should use similar kind of precautions as one use at the time of total or partial solar eclipse. One should not directly look at the Sun. Your eye may be damaged or even you may be blind in extreme case, if you directly look at Sun, when Venus is passing through it. You also should not look towards Sun directly using an telescope or binocular.

You must protect your eyes to observe the transit of Venus directly with proper solar filters. However, you should not be panicked with this warnings to witness this rare spectacle. There are plenty of ways to experience the transit of Venus safely, provided you use proper eye protection.

You should use one of the methods listed below to observe this historic event.

  • You can use specially designed filtered spectacle to watch the event. Using sunglass is NOT safe while you look directly at the sun. The old method of using exposed black and white film as a filter is now considered unsafe, as small gap or imperfections in the film may allow harmful UV rays to pass through.

  • The safest way to watch the transit is to observe an image of the Sun projected onto a screen using a telescope, binoculars, pinhole or reflected pinhole.

Interesting facts

  • The Venus transit is similar to a solar eclipse by the Moon. Though the diameter of Venus is about four times that of the Moon, Venus appears smaller, and travels more slowly across the face of the Sun, because it is located farther away from Earth.

  • Historically, Venus transit was used to make first realistic estimate of size of solar system. Observations of the 1639 Venus transit, helped astronomers to estimate the distance between the Sun and the Earth that was more accurate than any other estimates in that time.

(26th May 2012)

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