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Get ready for the transit of Venus

Scientists and amateur astronomers around the world are preparing to observe the rare occurrence of Venus crossing the face of the Sun on 5-6 June, an event that will not be seen again for over a hundred years.
The occasion also celebrates the first transit while there is a spacecraft orbiting the planet - ESA's Venus Express.
ESA will be reporting live from the Arctic island of Spitsbergen, where the Venus Express science team will be discussing the latest scientific results from the mission while enjoying a unique view of the 2012 transit under the 'midnight Sun'.

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The 2012 Transit of Venus
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On June 5th, 2012, Venus will pass across the face of the sun, producing a silhouette that no one alive today will likely see again.
Transits of Venus are very rare, coming in pairs separated by more than a hundred years. This June's transit, the bookend of a 2004-2012 pair, won't be repeated until the year 2117. Fortunately, the event is widely visible. Observers on seven continents, even a sliver of Antarctica, will be in position to see it.

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ScienceCasts: The 2012 Transit of Venus



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Hubble to Use Moon as Mirror to See Venus Transit

Hubble cannot look at the Sun directly, so astronomers are planning to point the telescope at Earth's moon, using it as a mirror to capture reflected sunlight and isolate the small fraction of the light that passes through Venus's atmosphere. Imprinted on that small amount of light are the fingerprints of the planet's atmospheric makeup.
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643053main1_venustransit2004-and-2012-2-226x194.jpg

Path of Venus across the sun when it transited in June 2004, and when it will transit on June 6, 2012.

Credit: NASA



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Credit labcameraaction

In June this year, one of the rarest predictable astronomical phenomena will occur: Venus will pass directly in front of the Sun.



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New stamp for 2012 transit

On June 5, a new stamp will be issued in South Africa honouring the 2012 transit. The design of the stamp is based on sketches made by Daniel Fischer back in 2004. These sketches accompanied his article about the determination of the distance to the Sun from simultaneous observations of Venus when the planet is seen as a round black spot on the face of the Sun.
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The Venus Twilight Experiment

We are establishing an international collaboration for deploying specialised instruments in the transit visibility area. We also rely upon the collaboration of observers that will use professional instruments at several sites. The multi-wavelength data will be interpreted thanks to a numerical model capable of reproducing the observations.
Our final aims are a better characterisation of these twilight phenomena and - in turn - an improved understanding of the atmosphere of Venus, jointly with the observations obtained by Venus Express, the probe now orbiting the planet.

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Apart from the rarity of the transit of Venus, it has special significance for Australians.
Captain James Cook sailed for Tahiti on the Endeavour with the astronomer Charles Green to make observations of the transit on June 3, 1769. Once completed, his instructions from the Admiralty were to continue south to find the fabled ''Unknown South Land''.

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The second of the two 21st-century transits of Venus will not be visible in its entirety from the British Isles. The latter stages of the transit will be in progress during sunrise. This transit favours observers in eastern parts of Asia and Australasia, and parts of north western America. Sadly, people living in the southern part of South America miss out on both of the 21st-century transits of Venus.


The Transit from the United Kingdom

suntransit1b.gif

In the United Kingdom, the transit ends between one and one and a half hours after sunrise depending on your location. Taking London as an example, sunrise occurs at 03:46 UT in the north-eastern sky. The final stages of the transit are in progress at sunrise. Venus starts to cross the solar limb at interior egress at 04:37 UT, and the transit ends with exterior egress at 04:55 (UT).

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To convert to British Summer Time (BST), add one hour to the Universal Time.



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Transit of Venus Promo for Sun-Earth Day 2012



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