Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Transit of Venus, 2012

No words of wisdom to impart today, but I do have a couple of pictures I took of the last transit of Venus that will occur in more than 120 years. Venus orbits the sun more rapidly than we do, and so it crosses from one side of the sun to the other quite frequently, from our perspective here on Earth. However, the alignment of the Earth, Venus and the sun only allow us to actually see the disc of Venus crossing the sun's surface quite rarely, in a pattern that repeats every 243 years. Visible transits occur in pairs, eight years apart. Then a gap of either 105 years or 121 years will occur before the next pair. Today's transit was the second (the first occurred in 2004) of the current pair. The next pair won't occur until December of 2117 and December of 2125.

The top image was taken (with my smartphone camera) via a reflective viewer (called a sunspotter), while the second one was taken through a Dobsonian telescope with a mylar solar filter at Sac City College today. The second picture looks like it is "upside down" because telescopes invert their images (and I didn't flip the picture around the way I did the top one). You can also see some sunspots in the picture if you zoom in a bit.

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