Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The 2012 Venus transit

Every so often, celestial objects align in such a way that special effects occur. We have seen it with the moon during a lunar eclipse, but the same can happen with the planet Venus, which orbits the Sun at a closer distance than the Earth. Last night, or just yesterday depending on where you are in the world, something special happened: the Sun, Venus and Earth were aligned in a way that made Venus visible when looking at the sun. In case you did not see it yourself, NASA snapped a few pictures that show this magnificent natural and rare phenomenon.

The transit
A Venus transit, the name for a situation where Venus is exactly in between the Earth and the Sun, is quite rare. The next one is expected to arrive in 2117, so you have basically missed your last chance to see one: as they come in pairs, the previous one was in 2004.

NASA created a time-lapse using pictures similar to the ones they published earlier when photographing the Sun. Now, they show something that is partly blocking the Sun, a small dot that is known as Venus. The picture below shows how the planet passed along our view of the sky. It is interesting to note that what you are looking at are actually movements of a celestial body, travelling around a big star, a very rare view indeed.
Credit: NASA

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