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A mini noder meet of unperson, xie and I observed the event this morning (June 8th) along with unperson's girlfriend and my son from the 4th floor roof of a parking garage. It was cool, it was a little black dot on an orange disk through a solar filtered telescope. We may or may not have observed the atmosphere of Venus. She certainly was not perfectly spherical, rather bumpy really. We also saw a little black dot on a white disk through a projected binocular view and observed "naked eye with solar filters from NASA provided by unperson's girlfriend. We all like to imagine we saw that pin point that was just at the edge of the naked human eye's ability to accommodate. Mostly it was a fun "I was there" moment.

“A transit of Venus across the disk of the Sun is among the rarest of planetary alignments. The last transit occurred 120 years ago in 1882, while the next one takes place on 2004 June 08”.7 I was happy to learn of this ahead of time so I can plan to try and observe it. I won’t pretend to know more than I do but in reading I have learned that Venus passes across the disc of the sun (in other words Venus comes directly between earth and partially eclipses the sun) very rarely. This always occurs in pairs so it will happen again on June 6, 2012, then not again for another 120 years! Mercury transits the sun about 13 times in a given century.8

Historical information:
“No living person has seen a transit of Venus because the most recent one occurred in 1882.” Historical figures have observed and recorded transits of Venus. The first transit of Venus was observed in 1639 by Jeremiah Horrocks from England. 3J. Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon went to Africa to observe one in 1761.1 "On June 5, 1761 the transit of Venus was observed by 176 scientists from 117 stations all over the world. The Russian astronomer Mikhail Lomonosov was the first to deduce that Venus had an atmosphere because of the beautiful halo of light that surrounded its dark disk just as it crossed the edge of the sun."10 Captain James Cook observed one in Tahiti midway through the voyage of the Endeavor in 1769 during which he and his crew “discovered New Zealand, charted The Great Barrier Reef and much more hitherto unexplored coasts of Australia.”2 Pictures of the 1882 transit of Venus taken by students at Vassar College are published on the web.8 The 2004 transit will of course be well documented by professional astronomers and programs exist to coordinate amateur astronomers’ observations. 9

Who will be able to see this event:
“The entire transit (all four contacts) is visible from Europe, Africa (except western parts), Middle East, and most of Asia (except eastern parts). The Sun sets while the transit is still in progress from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Korea, easternmost China and Southeast Asia. Similarly, the Sun rises with the transit already in progress for observers in western Africa, eastern North America, the Caribbean and most of South America. None of the transit will be visible from southern Chile or Argentina, western North America, Hawaii or New Zealand.4

Equipment needed to observe this event:
The transit will be visible to the naked eye but one should NEVER look directly at the sun without proper light filtration. This does not mean sunglasses.

Indirect viewing via pinhole projectors, Camera obscura, and other projection techniques is possible.

Binoculars or a small telescope also equipped with proper light filtration will help to enhance the view using magnification.7 Solar filters should only be placed on the larger of the two lenses.

This writeup does not adequately address safe direct or filtered viewing techniques but they are available here.

Please be safe ====>http://tinyurl.com/3bncc

"SPACE STATION TRANSIT: Transits of Venus are rare, but this is unprecedented: The International Space Station (ISS) is going to cross the Sun four times during the 6+ hour transit of Venus on June 8th. Advanced observers in parts of Europe, Africa and Asia might be able to record the double transit." from Spaceweather.com.

1 http://www.hyperarts.com/pynchon/mason-dixon/extra/cape.html
2 http://archive.aal.lu/old_site/html/en/special_en0405-00.html
2B http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2004/28may_cook.htm?list1136105
"James Cook and the Transit of Venus: The best reason to watch the 2004 transit of Venus is history."
The best reason to watch the 2004 transit of Venus is history. 3 http://www.transit-of-venus.org.uk/conference/history.html
4 http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/transit/venus0412.html
5 http://star.arm.ac.uk/history/TRANSIT2.GIF Drawings by Captain James Cook
6 http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/OH/transit04.html Observers Handbook
7 http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/transit/TV2004.html#city predictions
(includes transit contact times for cities around the world)
8 http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/transit/transit.html
9 http://www.vt-2004.org/participate/ VT-2004 observing campaign
10 http://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry/venus/VT6.html

A google image search on the terms "transit Venus" is most rewarding.

Thanks go to Tmaq for first telling me about the transits of Venus, jasstrong for warnings about the blindness awaiting foolish viewers and unperson & heppigirl for references.

m_turner says Point Venus Papeete, Tahiti 1769. Importance of transit - allowed astronomers to measure distance from earth to venus and sun by parallax and multiple observations across the world, thus the size of earth's orbit was known. Knowing earth's orbit, it was then possible to determine distance to nearby stars (see parsec) from the parallax of summer/winter. The transit of venus let us know how big the universe is. From http://www.transit-of-venus.org.uk/science.htm

unperson says Another historical note, composer John Philip Sousa wrote a march to commemorate the Venus transit.

Here is a Library of Congress site with the music score and an mp3

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