I was lucky enough to see the transit of Venus this morning – right before the cloud cover finally did what it threatened to do and obscured all view (for several hours as I write from Auckland, NZ).
The next transit is in 2117 – which is why the 6 hours or so we get to see of it is actually quite cool. It doesn’t feel like a normal day, after all, it isn’t everyday people flock to their local stardome/observatory to get in on some astronomical action. But for now, with a an hour and a bit remaining, the action is decidedly subdued. Think I’ll check out the live views from the Interweb.
Historically, the transit of Venus has been of tremendous scientific value, as it gave astronomers a chance to perform observations and calculations that could confirm the inter-planetary distances (with a good degree of accuracy). In 1627 Johannes Kepler predicted there should be a transit of Venus in 1631. He died in 1630 but the accuracy of his predictions further confirmed his theories of planetary motion were accurate.
Anyway, it is 2012 and I await the parting of the clouds for even the briefest moment, to capture what people assure I will never see again, short of giant advancements in life extension technology.
More info on the Transit and why it’s a big deal:
- Nasa’s excellent informative transit page
- Thanks to the Stardome Observatory and Planetarium here in Auckland for raising awareness of this event and promoting science to the public.