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Last Venus transit for next 100 years

by TOMMY ALLAN Staff Writer

   Venus transited across the solar plane on June 6, 2012, the last time anyone will see this event for nearly 100 years.    Venus’ transit lasted about seven hours, and “appeared as a black dot about a 30th of the Sun’s diameter, moving slowly over the star’s northern hemisphere,” according to the Daily Times.    The last time Venus transited the sun was on June 8, 2004.    When the event occurred, it started around sunset at 6:00 P.M. when the sun is in the right spot to see for most people. As Venus transited the sun, it appeared as a little black dot with a faint glow around the planet as it moved across the solar plane. The Daily Times says “it was a beautiful event that drew astronomers worldwide.”    The event did not need any telescopes, but observers did need protection from the UV rays since they were staring at an image directly in front of the Sun.    After the experience, many were in awe. Freshman Jered Zelikovsky says, “It was pretty cool actually. I never really showed an interest to what happens with the planets.    During the event, while most of the world was able to see it, some parts in New Jersey, like Monroe, were not able to see it clearly enough due to weather conditions such as the sky being too cloudy. However, many people were able to see it via live feed on the internet.    NASA’s Hubble Telescope was able to capture the event up close, but since the telescope cannot capture an image directly in front of the Sun, it used the reflection of the Sun’s light off of the Moon to study the transit.    Venus is roughly the size of the Earth, and is the second planet from the Sun, is the hottest planet in our solar system with no oceans and a lead-melting surface temperature. In the 18th and 19th centuries, astronomers were able to measure the distance of the Earth to the Sun due to the Venus transit.    The cause of the Venus transit is the planets coming in a line that the Earth sees as the other planets follow their path around the sun. Thus, we are able to see Venus as it passes through our line of sight of the sun and we see it as the Venus Transit.    Freshman Mike Higgins says, “I showed an interest in planets when I was young, and it still showed when this event occurred because what I was able to see was jaw-dropping and a pretty good lifetime experience.”    According to David Shortt of The Planetary Society, “Transits of Venus follow a peculiar pattern — two transits 8 years apart, then 105.5 years with no transits, then two transits 8 years apart, then 121.5 years with no transits, for a total cycle of 243 years,” meaning the next transit will occur in December 2117.    Although we will not be able to see another Venus transit for another 100 years, we will still be able to see it in the night sky for future study.

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