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Space Science

Venus To Transit the Sun In June, Not Again Until 2117 143

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-until-the-cubs-win-the-world-series dept.
revealingheart writes with this quote from ScienceDaily: "On 5 and 6 June this year, millions of people around the world will be able to see Venus pass across the face of the Sun in what will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 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. ...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." You can check this chart to see whether it'll be visible at your location, and when you should look. You'll need a safe way to watch unless you are Vulcan. And yes, there's even a phone app to help you out.
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Venus To Transit the Sun In June, Not Again Until 2117

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:09PM (#39863817)

    Or is there one of these once in a lifetime events about once a year?

    • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:11PM (#39863829)

      No, you're just really old.

    • by 2.7182 (819680)
      You are dead on. There are quite a few objects out there and a lot of "special" positions they can be in. Also, I don't know if it is really safe for Vulcans, since they might be temporarily blind. The full health implications were never discussed. Macular degeneration at 200 anyone?
    • by Fluffeh (1273756)

      Cool events happen all the time, but many of these individual events won't happen again for a long time. Like useless first posts on /. Each one is probably a different person posting, but they happen all the time... Do you see what I did there?

    • Re:Is it just me... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Relic of the Future (118669) <dales@nOsPaM.digitalfreaks.org> on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:21PM (#39863907)
      No, but that one "Mars at closest approach!" email has been chaining around for a decade. (So remember people, make it clear that it's June 5th 2012 when you tell your Fwd: happy relatives and friends.)

      But seriously, the transit of Venus IS a big deal. The first post-enlightenment ToV was how we were able to determine the size of an AU, making it the first step in the chain to understanding the size of everything else in the universe beyond the Earth.

      • by guanxi (216397)

        The first post-enlightenment ToV was how we were able to determine the size of an AU, making it the first step in the chain to understanding the size of everything else in the universe beyond the Earth.

        Would you care to expand on that for the not-yet-enlightented?

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          RTFA.

          Johannes Kepler successfully predicted that both planets would transit the Sun in 1631, part of which was verified with Mercury's transit of that year. But the first transit of Venus to actually be viewed was in 1639 -- an event that had been predicted by the English astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks. He observed the transit in the village of Much Hoole in Lancashire -- the only other person to see it being his correspondent, William Crabtree, in Manchester.

          Later, in 1716, Edmond Halley proposed using a tra

      • by Progman3K (515744)

        Using Celestia to plot the orbits, I found out:
        Mars is currently (May 2nd, 2012) 0.95563 AU from us.
        Mars will be 1.2248 AU from us on June 5th, 20012

    • by PPH (736903)

      You must be thinking of going out of business sales.

      • There was a shop around the corner from here with a sign "going out of business since 1994".

        Yes, it was a marketing gag, but at least a funny one for a change.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Better yet, this exact once in a lifetime event happened a scant 8 years ago... So those of you over the age of 8 might be witnessing a twice in a lifetime event.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        8 + 105.5 = 113.5

        113.5 + 8 = 121.5

        Assuming no global catastrophe, it's virtually certain someone born in 2003 will live through three of them, and quite possibly four.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          But probably only be lucid to one of them

    • There's a little black spot on the sun today
      It's the same old thing as yesterday
      - The Police

      These Venus transits only happen ecery 105-121 years, so you've never seen it and will never see it again. BTW, interesting FA.

      • by Coren22 (1625475)

        Except for the one in 2004 :)

        But, my kids are going to be old enough to appreciate the importance of it, I will have to setup the telescope.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transit_of_Venus [wikipedia.org]

        A transit of Venus took place on 8 June 2004 and the next will be on 6 June 2012. 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.

  • More than once (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SmlFreshwaterBuffalo (608664) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:10PM (#39863821)

    ...in what will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience

    Transits occur in pairs...the last transit was in 2004.

    So, what you're saying is it could be a twice-in-a-lifetime experience for some?

    • by rrohbeck (944847) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:14PM (#39863851)

      Well it's 2012. Maybe the Mayans were about a half year off.

    • Once or twice? Are ya'll listening to Aubrey DuGrey? Dude said (I think with much hope) that we may well live 500 years+.....

      Mortality sucks.

    • by laejoh (648921)
      It's twice in a lifetime max for those who look directly at the sun. The limit of 'the remaining eyes' after each transit goes to 0.
      • I protest against this unfounded assumption and generalization in the name of every mutant on the planet!

  • a good time to go out and support your local planetarium, science museum and/or local astronomy groups. (Yes, I work at a planetarium)

    • Agreed! OK, so I work at a planetarium too. We really need a secret handshake or something.
  • Actually you forgot Poland...

    I mean, the singularity.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:36PM (#39864013)

    The Sun Today - Atmospheric Imaging Assembly [lmsal.com]

    Most likely the best view: 4500k - Visible Light [lmsal.com]

    Images are updated every 30 minutes.

    • I knew it. Why bother going out or anywhere, if there's anything worth being seen, there's certainly a webpage for it.

  • Visible everywhere except Latin America.
    Once again, it sucks to be third world.

  • There's a little black spot on the sun today
    (That`s my soul up there)

  • Good view from home! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:59PM (#39864131)

    I live in southwestern British Columbia, Canada, and not only will we have a good view (egress is just after sunset), the weather prospects are decent. My mylar filter is ready to go on my Takahashi, so is my Coronado PST, bought on the way to the airport to observe the 2006 eclipse in Turkey.

    In 2004 I looked at creative places I might go to see the transit, and one candidate was Inuvik, thanks to the midnight sun. Until I looked at the weather prospects there, and concluded it wasn't going to happen. I got skunked by the 2010 eclipse from Mangaia in the Cook Islands, nice sunny weather the entire time, except at the time of the eclipse. Nice place, otherwise.

    ...laura

    • I live in southwestern British Columbia, Canada, and not only will we have a good view (egress is just after sunset), the weather prospects are decent. My mylar filter is ready to go on my Takahashi, so is my Coronado PST, bought on the way to the airport to observe the 2006 eclipse in Turkey.

      ...laura

      How do you know what the weather will be like on June 5?

      Myself, I've got a 80mm refractor with a sun filter, I'm all set to view this.. unless it's clouded over.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Royal Society and its European counterparts dispatched astronomers to various places on Earth to observe the 1761 and 1769 transits. Two of them were Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon. Between transits Mason and Dixon spent almost five years surveying the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland. Only recently have I come to appreciate the magnitude of that accomplishment, thanks in part to the Mark Knopfler song.

    • Maybe that explains why NASA put in all of the US state borders on their map as homage to Mason and Dixon. Don't know why they also did it for Australia though. Assuming that that isn't actually the reason, why the hell would you draw a map like that? It looks really weird - unless it's just an American aesthetic?
    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      thanks in part to the Mark Knopfler song.

      So Mason & Dixon got money for nothing, and chicks for free?

      Seriously, I'm not sure what song you're talking about, and a bit of looking around the Mark Knopfler & Dire Straights wikipedia pages doesn't elucidate it.

  • by fatp (1171151) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @01:07AM (#39865045) Journal
    During the transit, when looks at Earth from Venus, will the shadow of Venus look like a dot on Earth? What's this phenomenon called? (something eclipse??)
    • by Ironchew (1069966)

      During the transit, when looks at Earth from Venus, will the shadow of Venus look like a dot on Earth? What's this phenomenon called? (something eclipse??)

      During the transit, Earth will be in the antumbra [wikipedia.org] of Venus, so no, there won't be a clearly-defined shadow.

    • by sFurbo (1361249)
      As Venus does not totally blot out the sun as seen from Earth, the shadow will not be very black. As the sun parallax is very small, the shadow will hit all of Earth almost simultaniously.
    • by box4831 (1126771)

      During the transit, when looks at Earth from Venus, will the shadow of Venus look like a dot on Earth? What's this phenomenon called? (something eclipse??)

      When looking at the Earth while on Venus, all you'll see is your eyeballs melting down your boiling, crushed face.

  • I don't know about you, but I plan to be on Venus in 2117. Then I'll scoot over to Mars to watch the 2125 transit of Venus.

  • by tanveer1979 (530624) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @02:01AM (#39865205) Homepage Journal

    400mm telephotos are best, but your camera will damage if you try to do direct photography.
    So go to ebay.com, and get a cheap 900nm+ IR filter. These filters are so dark, that even bright sun is a pale object through them.
    These cost 20$ for a 77mm filter.

    With filter on, point your cam at sun, shoot with 1/1000 or faster and then quickly point camera away.

    Remember, do not keep camera pointed at the sun continously.

    I did a solar eclipse with 300mm lens.
    Here are the pics
    http://tanveer.smugmug.com/Nature/Solar-Eclipse-July-22/8996323_xLmdqp#!i=598157547&k=7ZhhD [smugmug.com].

    you can also stack two filters, but then you would need a shutter speed of 1/500 or slower.

    • by awrowe (1110817)

      Baader Solar Safety Film [firstlightoptics.com]

      Its really easy. Make your own filter, fit it over camera, telescope, binoculars, whatever.

      And no, I'm not connected with First Light Optics or Baader. I don't care where you get it, but unless you want to join the soon-to-be-living-with-reduced-vision crowd up there, use this stuff or something like it instead of the welders goggles, floppy disk film or whatever else they are advocating.

      • soon-to-be-living-with-reduced-vision

        Maybe read this first before spreading disinformation? http://mintaka.sdsu.edu/GF/vision/Galileo.html [sdsu.edu]

        • by awrowe (1110817)

          soon-to-be-living-with-reduced-vision

          Maybe read this first before spreading disinformation? http://mintaka.sdsu.edu/GF/vision/Galileo.html [sdsu.edu]

          Put your eye against even a replica Galilean telescope which is pointing at the sun and I'll challenge you to read it again if you like.

          • So you disagree with the information given on that page. Anything to support that other than smart-assing?
            • by awrowe (1110817)

              That page mentions that Galileo didn't blind himself by looking at the sun through a telescope, which I'm quite happy to accept. As that page states, he fell in love with solar projection and quite wisely performed his studies on the sun using that method.

              The way you are using that page however seems to imply that looking at the sun through a telescope will do no harm. So again, I reiterate. You look at the sun directly through a telescope, then come back and tell us how safe it is. Alternatively, join the

  • How do I do this? where are the best websites?
    • Last time (June 8th 2004, IMRKIAG) I mounted a cheap catadioptric 20x-50x spotting scope on a tripod, pointed it at the sun and catched the projected image on a piece of paper held about 20" from the eyepiece. By adjusting the focus and zoom I obtained a nice 4" image of the sun's disk to watch sunspots, transiting venuses and airliners.

      Very easy and safe; no filters required. Binoculars might also work if you convert it into a monocular by capping one half.

      Experiment now, so you'll be prepared for the even

  • The Visitor Information Station on Mauna Kea (home of the world's top multi-band complex of large observatories) is planning to have a bunch of stuff going on for transit day - see their page [hawaii.edu].

    Sadly, I'll be in DC. :(

  • Don't forget there is also a partial solar eclipse happening on May 20 in the Western U.S. More info here:
    http://www.dailycamera.com/get-out/ci_20490292/colorado-have-best-solar-eclipse-u-s-has [dailycamera.com]

  • So much conversation about a black dot crossing a yellow dot.

  • On Netflix. How Oxfordian is that?

  • I can't see most cosmic events because that's how boring this part of the planet is.

  • This may be the last chance to see it from Earth in the next 100 years, but Venus transits can be seen all the time from an orbit around the Sun. With the development of space travel in the near future, it is very likely that many people will get another chance to see a Venus transit from space, within their lifetime.

    I can imagine space tourism companies offering "Venus Transit" tours in the not so distant future. (Maybe 10 - 15 years?)
    • by Amouth (879122)

      yea because with the current difficulties in reaching escape velocity just to get to orbit.. breaking out of the gravity well will be simple in 10-15 years.

      • by value (2182292)
        There are a lot of possibilities once LEO can be reached reliably. I think SpaceX has a good chance to do it.

        Once LEO access is cheap enough, someone could build a nuclear powered space-only vehicle, that would never land on Earth and would stay in space all the time (to make the environmentalists happy).
        At first it could be powered with RTG-s (the tech already exists today). Later it could be upgraded to use actual nuke reactors.
        Something like that could escape the Earth's gravity very easily.
        • by Amouth (879122)

          your idea relies heavily on Ion thrusters that while they do exist are not "fast" and i seriously doubt would work for a maned mission out side of earths gravity well (something we have never done mind you). I think the thought that in 10-15 years we could see commercial flights offering people a trip to see Venus transit the sun is the same as people 20-30 years ago saying we would have flying cars. And while yes it could be done, it's just not practical or cost efficient.

  • 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.

    So, what you're saying is that 8 is equal to 105.5 or 121.5?
    I don't know what planet you're from, but that math is very, very wrong.
    It's wrong to the point that even I noticed that.

  • ...with remaining eye.
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