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Stunning pics: Venus transit leaves beauty spot on sun

Last updated on: June 6, 2012 15:03 IST

Stunning pics: Venus transit leaves beauty spot on sun

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On Wednesday, planet Venus put on a rare show for sky gazers by moving across the face of the sun, producing a silhouette that no one alive today will likely see again. The next one won't be for another 105 years.

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Image: Handout image courtesy of NASA shows the planet Venus transiting the Sun
Photographs: Reuters
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Venus transit leaves beauty spot on sun

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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. 


Image: Handout image courtesy of NASA shows the planet Venus at the start of its transit of the sun
Photographs: Reuters
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Venus transit leaves beauty spot on sun

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From the United States to South Korea, people around the world turned their attention to the daytime sky on Tuesday and early Wednesday in Asia to make sure they caught the rare sight of the transit of Venus. Fortunately, the event was widely visible even from India. 

The nearly seven-hour transit began at 7 am Indian Standard Time on Wednesday and was visible till 10 am.


Image: Venus passes across the sun as seen from Gwacheon, south of Seoul, June 6
Photographs: Reuters

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Venus transit leaves beauty spot on sun

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The awesome spectacle was visible all over the country, including the national capital. However, a cloudy sky restricted its visibility from Delhi and some other parts of northern India.

"This was the century's last Venus transit," Nehru Planetarium Director N Rathnasree told PTI.


Image: Venus starts its transit across the sun as seen from Newcastle
Photographs: Reuters

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Venus transit leaves beauty spot on sun

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Large projectors, pin hole cameras and telescopes were set up to help people see the celestial event unfold at the Planetarium, where a large number of people had gathered to see the rare event."It is exciting to see such an event," said Std X student Soumaya.

"It is too good to resist. It is awesome," Nisha Gupta, a schoolteacher said, who had earlier seen the 2004 spectacle also.


Image: Planet Venus, pictured as a black dot, is seen in transit across the sun during a break in cloud cover at sun in Guwahati


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Venus transit leaves beauty spot on sun

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"The next Venus transit will happen after 105.5 years in 2117, making this a lifetime's event," Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators Director C B Devgun said.

From the Earth, this phenomenon is seen when the Venus passes between the Sun and the Earth. It occurs in intervals of eight, 121½, and 105½ years, Devgun said.


Image: Handout image courtesy of NASA shows the planet Venus transiting the sun
Photographs: Courtesy/Nasa

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Venus transit leaves beauty spot on sun

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"The phenomenon should be seen only through solar filters, special solar glasses or with the help of pin hole cameras," Secretary of Planetary Society of India N Sri Raghunandan Kumar said.

The last transit of Venus occurred on June 8, 2004 and was visible across India.

Image: Clouds and trees silhouette the setting sun as Venus transits across it
Photographs: Ayaz Asif/Flickr

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Venus transit leaves beauty spot on sun

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Transits of Venus first gained worldwide attention in the 18th century. In those days, the size of the solar system was one of the biggest mysteries of science.

The relative spacing of planets was known, but not their absolute distances. How many miles would you have to travel to reach another world? The answer was as mysterious then as the nature of dark energy is now.


Photographs: Flickr
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Venus transit leaves beauty spot on sun

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Venus was the key, according to astronomer Edmund Halley. He realised that by observing transits from widely-spaced locations on earth it should be possible to triangulate the distance to Venus using the principles of parallax.


Image: A NASA image shows the planet Venus at the start of its transit of the sun
Photographs: Reuters

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Venus transit leaves beauty spot on sun

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The idea galvanised scientists who set off on expeditions around the world to view a pair of transits in the 1760s.

The great explorer James Cook himself was dispatched to observe one from Tahiti, a place as alien to 18th-century Europeans as the moon or Mars might seem to us now. Some historians have called the international effort the "the Apollo programme of the 18th century."


Image: The planet Venus makes its transit across the sun as seen from Kathmandu
Photographs: Reuters

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Venus transit leaves beauty spot on sun

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In retrospect, the experiment falls into the category of things that sound better than they actually are.

Bad weather, primitive optics, and the natural "fuzziness" of Venus's atmosphere and other factors prevented those early observers from gathering the data they needed. 

Photographs: Courtesy/NASA
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Venus transit leaves beauty spot on sun

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Proper timing of a transit would have to wait for the invention of photography in the century after Cook's voyage. In the late 1800s, astronomers armed with cameras finally measured the size of the solar system as Edmund Halley had suggested.


Image: Pelicans fly during the Venus transit
Photographs: mingclin/Flickr

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Venus transit leaves beauty spot on sun

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This year's transit is the second of an eight-year pair. Anticipation was high in June 2004 as Venus approached the sun. 

No one alive at the time had seen a Transit of Venus with their own eyes, and the hand-drawn sketches and grainy photos of previous centuries scarcely prepared them for what was about to happen.



Photographs: Jino Gamez/Flickr
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Modern solar telescopes captured unprecedented view of Venus's atmosphere backlit by solar fire.

They saw Venus transiting the sun's ghostly corona, and gliding past magnetic filaments big enough to swallow the planet whole.


Photographs: Flickr
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Stunning pics: Venus transit leaves beauty spot on sun

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They saw Venus transiting the sun's ghostly corona, and gliding past magnetic filaments big enough to swallow the planet whole.

Image: A sadhu looks at the transit of Venus through a telescope in Guwahati

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