Crossing the Sun
On the night of 5/6 June 2012, the planet Venus passes between the Earth and Sun. This spectacular astronomical event, the ‘transit of Venus’, occurs in pairs eight years apart – but these pairs are separated by more than 100 years. So the next transit will occur in 2117.
Professional and amateur astronomers have observed transits since the 17th century. The most famous set of observations was made in 1769, when the Royal Society sent Captain James Cook and others around the world with a selection of the finest instruments.
Transits are remarkable phenomena, and easy to observe in the right locations, as long as there is a clear sky. They are important too, having confirmed our basic understanding of the Solar System and allowed astronomical distances to be calculated.
To celebrate this remarkable astronomical event we’ve put together a display telling the story of the transit of Venus, which you can find in the Exploring Space gallery.
For more information about the transit of Venus visit http://www.transitofvenus.org.