Saturday, 19 May 2012

When the Venus transits the Sun: The next event takes place only after 105 years, on December 11, 2117

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Venus, the planet of love, will transit the sun on June 6. It will 
appear as a small spot slowly moving across the sun, and people in Andhra Pradesh and 
other parts of India can witness this rare celestial event with solar shade glasses 
immediately after the sunrise. The event can be seen between 5.42 am and 10.19 am in 
Hyderabad and other places in the State.

Technically called the transit of Venus, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and 
those alive today will never be able to see this heavenly phenomenon again. The next 
transit of Venus will take place only after 105 years, on December 11, 2117.

The city-based Planetary Society of India in association with the AP State Council of 
Science and Technology has made special arrangements to enable people witness this rare 
event. “We are holding a camp on June 6 and have imported special filter glasses from 
Germany. It should not be viewed with naked eyes. The actual transit of Venus begins at 
3.39 am on June 6, but since the Sun rises at 5.42 am in the State, it can be viewed only 
after 5.42 am. It will continue till 10.19,” said Mr N Sri Raghunandan Kumar, secretary 
of Planetary Society.

During the transit of Venus, the planet passes directly between earth and the sun. People 
on the earth can see the Venus as a small spot passing slowly across the sun.  This rare 
alignment had helped astronomers in measuring the size of the solar system.

Astrophysicists warn against observing the transit of Venus through naked eyes. They 
recommend rear projection screen, solar filtered telescope, or thick welding glass or 
disposable eclipse shades to view the event. The transit of Venus occurs in pairs, the 
last being in 2004. It was preceded by the transit in 1882 CE. The next event will take 
place in 2117, followed by the second pairing event on December 8, 2125 CE.

This is the fourth transit of Venus pairs after the invention of telescope in 1610. The 
transit in 1631 could not be witnessed. Its pairing event took place in 1639.  This was 
followed by the events in 1761 and 1769, 1874 and 1882.

The transit or passage of a planet across the the sun is rare celestial event. For those 
on the earth, only transits of mercury and venus are visible. As many as 13 transits of 
mercury take place in 100 years. But on the other hand, transits of Venus occur in pairs 
with more than 100 years separating each pair of transits.

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