Venus transit draws sky gazers

2012-06-06 09:29
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

GALLERY: Transit of Venus

Sky gazers around the world have held up their telescopes and viewing glasses to watch Venus slide across the sun - a rare celestial phenomenon. See all the pictures.

Sydney - Sky gazers around the world held up their telescopes and viewing glasses on Wednesday to watch Venus slide across the sun - a rare celestial phenomenon that will not happen again for more than 100 years.

The spectacle began shortly after 22:00 GMT on Tuesday in parts of North America, Central America and the northern part of South America, and was seen, with magnification, as a small black dot on the solar surface.

All of the transit was visible in East Asia and the Western Pacific, although poor weather conditions spoiled the view for some.

"This is a once in a lifetime thing and if you miss it you have to wait until 2117," said Jong Tze Kian from the National Planetarium in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, where clear skies afforded prime viewing.

"So people are very excited to come and see the transit."

Cloud

Australia - for which the movement of Venus carries a special historical interest - was one of the best places to watch with the nearly seven-hour transit visible from eastern and central parts of the country.

Although broken cloud hampered the view for some, Sydney Observatory held a sell-out event with 1 500 people buying tickets to witness the rare passage.

"It's not like an eclipse where you've got something blotting out the sun," said Fred Watson, astronomer-in-chief at the Australian Astronomical Observatory.

"Venus is 100th of the diameter of the sun so it's essentially just a black spot superimposed on the disc of the sun, but it moves across from one side to the other."

Europe, the Middle East and South Asia got to see the end of the phenomenon, while North America saw its opening stage.

"Everyone's having a great time," said Nasa scientist Richard Vondrak from the Goddard Space Flight Centre in the US state of Maryland, where 600 people gathered to observe the fiery planet of love.

The passage between the Earth and the sun of the solar system's second planet should only be viewed through approved solar filters to avoid the risk of blindness, experts warned.

Scientific value

The event has special significance to Australia as a previous transit in 1769 played a key part in the "discovery" of the southern continent by the British navy's James Cook.

Captain Cook set sail for Tahiti on HMS Endeavour to record the transit that occurred that year, and after a successful observation he was sent to seek the "great south land" thought to exist in the Pacific Ocean.

During the voyage, he charted the east coast of Australia, staking a British claim in 1770.

Planetary transits have enduring scientific value.

"Timing the transit from two widely separated places on the Earth's surface allows you to work out the distance to Venus and hence the size of the solar system," explained Watson in Australia.

Scientists say it also allows them to learn more about how to decipher the atmospheres of planets outside our solar system as they cross in front of their own stars.

Only six transits have ever been observed - in 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882 and 2004 - because they need magnification to be seen properly, though the event has happened more than 50 times since 2000 BC.

US space agency Nasa promised "the best possible views of the event" through high-resolution images taken from its Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), in orbit around the Earth.

The European Space Agency's Venus Express is the only spacecraft orbiting the hot planet at present and will be using light from the sun to study Venus's atmosphere.

ESA and Japan's space agency also have satellites in low-Earth orbit to observe as Venus passes in front of the sun.

And the Nasa Hubble Space Telescope, which cannot view the sun directly, will use the Moon as a mirror to capture reflected sunlight and learn more about Venus's atmosphere.
Read more on:    nasa  |  astronomy
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
7 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

The most epic YouTube mashup of 2014

Try to see how many of these things gone viral you recognise in this epic mashup YouTube video!

 
 

I love summer.24

Summer Survey!
Stay in shape this summer
Ultimate fails compilation 2014
This sleeping bulldog is you during the holidays

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today is one of those days where you could react and say something and then have to pick up the pieces. Take your time before...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.