This picture was made in 1882. It shows Venus during the transit of 1882. The big white circle is the Sun. Venus is the black dot on the Sun. Venus is near the top of the Sun.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy the U.S. Naval Observatory Library.
History of Venus Transits
Sometimes the planet Venus goes between Earth and the Sun. From Earth it looks
like a black dot moves across the Sun. Astronomers call this a transit
Transits of Venus don't happen very often. Sometimes the wait between transits is about eight years. Sometimes the wait is more than 100 years!
There will be two Venus transits pretty soon. One is very soon. It will be
8, 2004. The next one will be eight years later on June
6, 2012. After that, you will have to wait a very long time before another Venus
transit. The next one won't be until the year 2117!
People have only seen five transits of Venus so far. Those transits were in
1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, and 1882.
In the past, people didn't know how far
the Sun is from Earth. We didn't know
how big the rest of our Solar
System is either. Astronomers made some measurements during Venus transits.
They used those measurements to figure out how far away the Sun is. The Sun
is about 150 million kilometers (93 million miles) from Earth. That is a very,
very long way!
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