Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Classic Misunderstanding: Transit of Venus

There has been great excitement and also great misunderstanding about this celestial phenomenon called the Transit of Venus.

The transit of Venus occurs when the planet Venus' orbit causes it to appear as a small, dark disk moving across the face of the Sun. It happens with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. Observations of the 1639 transit were combined with the principle of parallax, to provide an estimate of the distance between the Sun and the Earth and thus the size of the Solar System. (cf. Wikipedia)

This image shows Venus at the start of its transit of the sun.
NASA / Reuters

I was going to get a pair of binoculars and build a projection camera for the event, but because it was cloudy on the East Coast, the kids and I watched it on the NASA Edge Ustream. It was still an awesome spectacle that won't be repeated until 2117.

Scientists and people from ages past have been continuously fascinated by this phenomenon. However, there has been some confusion by us moderns about just what a "Transit of Venus" might be, so the crack staff at WBN research department offers the following clarification on a Classic Misunderstanding:

Classic Misunderstanding of the Transit of Venus

You're welcome.

What?

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