June 6, 2012
After waiting patiently, sky gazers around the planet were rewarded yesterday with one of the rarest astronomical phenomena this side of Halley’s comet: the Transit of Venus. During the evening, viewers in the United States were treated to the spectacle as Venus crossed between the earth and the sun, appearing as a small, perfectly round black dot that moved gradually across our star until sunset. As we wrote last week, the transit has historically been a valuable event for scientists seeking to understand our solar system. It’s also simply one of the coolest sights you’ll see in the sky.
If the skies were cloudy in your area—or if you simply forgot to check it out—you have to wait until 2117 to see the event again. As an alternative, take a look at this remarkable NASA video of the transit, produced using the Solar Dynamic Observatory telescope, an orbiting spacecraft charged with the mission of closely observing the sun.
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