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
to the Sun.
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