Look Up, Stargazers: June 5 Is The Transit Of Venus
The Transit Of Venus: The planet Venus appears as a tiny black dot as it transits across the face of the sun on June 8, 2004. The rare astronomical event will take place again on June 5, 2012.
It’s been a good season for stargazers, a veritable meteor shower of astronomical goodies, from a supermoon to a solar eclipse. Next up? On Tuesday, June 5, astronomy enthusiasts can witness the Transit of Venus — one of the rarest astronomical events.
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During the six-hour transit, Venus moves in between the Earth and the sun. It’s a daytime phenomenon: “Instead of seeing Venus as the brightest object in the night sky, you see Venus as a tiny black dot crossing the burning disc of the sun,” explains Andrea Wulf, author of Chasing Venus.
It’s an event that happens in pairs eight years apart — and then not again for more than a century. “I think we will be the last living people to see one because the next one is going to be in 2117,” Wulf tells NPR’s Rachel Martin.
Wulf’s book, which is subtitled The Race to Measure the Heavens,explores the scientific and historical significance of the Transit of Venus. Back in the 1700s, the transit offered an opportunity for astronomers to unlock some fundamental puzzles about the solar system.