Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun

It wasn't perhaps as exciting as the Jubilee extravaganza, nor did it draw the massive television audiences, but the transit of Venus across the Sun did excite astronomers. The transit on Wednesday was an almost once in a lifetime event. Sky watchers flocked to universities and observatories which scheduled viewings and astronomy talks for the public, some with sun-safe telescopes and others with large screens for viewing the transit.

But not all went well. A scheduled NASA live webcast of the event from Hawaii malfunctioned briefly soon after it began, possibly due to heavy Internet traffic. The transit was visible in East Asia and the Western Pacific. Europe, the Middle East and South Asia were able to see the end stages of the eclipse with the approach of dawn this morning. Many astronomers in Britain also struggled to witness the even due to cloud and rain.

The last time the transit occurred was on Tuesday 8th June 2004, and prior to that in 1882. The next time the phenomena will occur will be in another 100 years.  Only six transits have ever been observed, in 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882 and 2004, because the transit is invisible without magnification, though the event has happened 53 times between 2000 BC and 2004. The next event will not take place until 2117.

More reports: BBC / Sky / CNN / Telegraph / Guardian /  NASA

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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