Something lovely happens in the skies today... Venus is a strangely errant planet, having the most complicated orbit when observed from Earth. We are lucky to observe this transit (basically the "Venus eclipse of the Sun") in our lifetime. The next one going to occur only in 2117. Here is the NASA image captured June 6, 2012 (SDO's Ultra-high Definition View of 2012 Venus Transit - 171 Angstrom):
"Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena. They occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years. A transit is similar to a solar eclipse by the Moon. While the diameter of Venus is more than 3 times that of the Moon, Venus appears smaller, and travels more slowly across the face of the Sun, because it is much farther away from Earth."
This is how it was illustrated by Nitzschke (see quite large collection of historical Transit of Venus illustrations here):
An glorious depiction of the Transit of Venus June 6th, 1761, conjoined Mercury, by Johann Gabriel Doppelmayr. First published in Atlas von hundert Charten 1712 & reprinted in Grossen Atlas 1716:
"Crabtree watching the Transit of Venus A.D. 1639" by Ford Madox Brown, a mural at Manchester Town Hall:
This year it will only visible in some parts of the globe, and in North America the transit has already occurred during sunset, June 5th... "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":
Planes seem to position themselves strategically over this unique event:
"This event happens in pairs eight years apart that are separated from each other by 105 or 121 years. The last transit was in 2004 and the next will not happen until 2117." Here is a 2004 vs. 2012 passes comparison:
Of course, you would need special solar filters to observe this event, and preferably, a telescope. However, I am sure that after-the-fact you can find plenty of images and videos on Google Images and Google Play, so don't worry if cloudy skies thwart your mission to see this today...
And to finish, here's another spectacular image: "Two Crescents", Venus and the Moon! -
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