Transit of Venus
On June 5, 2012 at sunset on the East Coast of North America and earlier for other parts of the U.S., the planet Venus will make its final trek across the face of the sun as seen from Earth until the year 2117. The last time this event occurred was on June 8, 2004 when it was watched by millions of people across the world. Get prepared for this once in a lifetime event!
For over 100 years the main quest of astronomers was to pin down the distance between Earth and Sun (the Astronomical Unit), which would give them a key to the size of the solar system. Careful studies of the transit of Venus became the gold mine they would harvest to reveal this measure.
On June 5, 2012, we will air a live ‘remote’ webcast from a mountainside Visitors Station site near the observatories in Hilo, Hawaii. This location will give a wonderful view of the entire transit with little chance of cloud cover to a worldwide audience.
You can experience the transit of Venus safely, but it is vital that you protect your eyes at all times with the proper solar filters.
Let Sun-Earth Day help you prepare for the Transit of Venus through a new series of videos hosted on our YouTube Channel.
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2012 January 9
Facing NGC 6946
Composite Image Data – Subaru Telescope (NAOJ) and Robert Gendler; Processing – Robert Gendler
Explanation: From our vantage point in the Milky Way Galaxy, we see NGC 6946 face-on. The big, beautiful spiral galaxy is located just 10 million light-years away, behind a veil of foreground dust and stars in the high and far-off constellation of Cepheus. From the core outward, the galaxy’s colors change from the yellowish light of old stars in the center to young blue star clusters and reddish star forming regions along the loose, fragmented spiral arms. NGC 6946 is also bright in infrared light and rich in gas and dust, exhibiting a high star birth and death rate. In fact, since the early 20th century at least nine supernovae, the death explosions of massive stars, were discovered in NGC 6946. Nearly 40,000 light-years across, NGC 6946 is also known as the Fireworks Galaxy. This remarkable portrait of NGC 6946 is a composite that includes image data from the 8.2 meter Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea.