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The Spring 2011 issue of The Earth Scientist is focused on modernizing seismology education. Thanks to IRIS, you can download this issue for free as a pdf. Print copies are available in our online store.
This diagram shows a simulated view of the black disk of Venus against the backdrop of the Sun during the Venus transit of June 2004. The yellow arrows show the path of Venus across the face of the Sun throughout the course of the transit.
Click on image for full size
This illustration is original Windows to the Universe artwork created by Randy Russell. The image of the Sun is courtesy SOHO (ESA & NASA); information on the apparent size and path of Venus courtesy Fred Espenak, NASA's GSFC.

Transits of Venus

The planet Venus periodically passes directly between Earth and the Sun. This event, which is somewhat similar to a solar eclipse, is called a transit of Venus. Viewed from Earth, Venus and Mercury are the only two planets that can transit the Sun.

Transits of Venus are very rare events. The last Venus transit was in 1882. The next one will be on June 8, 2004. Venus transits come in pairs separated by eight years, with more than a century between successive pairs. The second in the upcoming pair will be on June 6, 2012.

At least some part of the 2004 transit, which will last about six hours, will be visible from most places on Earth. NASA has a web site that provides information about viewing this transit.

Transits of Venus played an important role in the history of astronomy. Astronomers in the 1700s and 1800s used measurements of angles during Venus transits to determine the length of the Astronomical Unit (AU), the distance from Earth to the Sun.

Last modified May 24, 2004 by Randy Russell.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF