Shop Windows to the Universe

Become a nitrogen atom in the nitrogen cycle in our Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit/Game. See all our games, activity kits and classroom activities.
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.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games section of our online store includes a climate change card game and the Traveling Nitrogen game!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Transit

A "transit" is the name of a type of astronomical event. A transit is similar to a solar eclipse, except a transit involves a planet, instead of the Moon, passing in front of the Sun. As viewed from Earth,...more

Mercury Transit on May 7, 2003

The planet Mercury appeared to cross in front of the disk of the Sun on May 7, 2003. Astronomers call the event a transit. A transit is similar to a solar eclipse. However, a transit occurs when a planet,...more

History of Venus Transits

Transits of Venus are extremely rare astronomical phenomena. They occur in pairs, separated by eight years, with more than a century elapsing between successive pairs of transits. There will be two Venus...more

Venus Transit in June 2004

A rare astronomical event will occur in early June 2004. For the first time since 1882, Earthlings will be able to view a transit of the planet Venus. "Transit" is a term used by astronomers when a planet...more

Mercury Transit on November 8, 2006

The planet Mercury will cross in front of the disk of the Sun on Wednesday, November 8, 2006. Astronomers call the event a transit. A transit is similar to a solar eclipse. However, a transit occurs when...more

An Overview of the Interior and Surface of Venus

Venus is the second planet from the Sun, and is Earth's neighbor in the solar system. Venus is the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon, and sometimes looks like a bright star in the...more

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...more

The Poles of Venus

Would you expect to find ice caps and snow fields on Venus? Not likely! Venus is the hottest planet in our Solar System, and those high temperatures extend right on up to the poles. Though there aren't...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA