The Transit of Venus

Venus Visible at Sunset

Today, a rare event took place - the passing of the planet Venus between the Earth and the Sun, giving us a unique view of our neighbor silhouetted against the blazing sun. To safely view the transit, I set up a telescope, aimed it at the sun (without looking through it of course), then placed a white card about a foot away from the eyepiece. This creates a projection of the sun on the white card, and saves your eyeballs from melting!

Transit of Venus Projection

After the sun got too low to view projections, we ventured off to the countryside to watch the sun set. With a 300mm lens, I was barely able to capture the planet against the sun, but if you look close, it's there. Venus is about 30 million miles away from us, and the sun is over 80 million miles away, that makes the distance between the sun and Venus around 50 million miles. At that distance, the Sun dwarfs the planet - imagine how small it would be right next to the Sun.

Venus will not transit across the Sun again until 2115, so this is the last time any of us will probably see this. It's an important learning event for scientists as well. A planet's atmosphere can be see when it is against a star, and, the distance from the star can be determined during the transit.

At least we didn't just read about this event after the fact.

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