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Once Per Century: The Transit of Venus

Our guest blogger today is Gerald Venne, Events Coordinator for the Indiana Astronomy Society.

You’ve heard the hype…you’ve seen the numbers.  What?  You haven’t?  Well, once a century – once a lifetime – Venus puts on two shows.

Transit of Venus 2004, 2012. Photo credit: NASA.

Two shows, eight years apart.  The show is the rarest eclipse the inhabitants of Earth will ever see.  It is the transit of the planet Venus across the face of the Sun.  This century’s first show was June 8, 2004. If you missed that performance, the encore event, on Tuesday, June 5, 2012 will be the last chance in our lifetimes.  We Earthlings will see a tiny dot floating across the surface of the sun over several hours.  Some viewers have said the Transit of Venus looks as if there were a black hole punched in the sun, according to a NASA video (thank you, Soundgarden).

Venus Transit image, the striations of lines were caused by cloud cover. Image Credit: Sylvie Beland.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art, along with the Indiana Astronomical Society, is hosting a free viewing event this evening, accompanied by a flute performance by Thomas Robertello of  IU’s Jacobs School of Music.  Click here for more information.

After that, the next two shows will be in 2117 and 2125, respectively, so your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will get to see it too.

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