Once in a lifetime view of Venus

There are stellar events which take place once in a lifetime. The arrival of Haley’s Comet, the alignment of three or more planets, and as of yesterday, the passage of Venus across the face of the Sun. According to astronomers, this event will not happen for another 105 years. So for those of us who lucky enough to see it, this really is a once in a lifetime event

News of this has junior astronomers scrambling to get a glimpse, and the web is already buzzing from the first photos to be uploaded. The one featured at top comes from the orbiting satellite known as the Solar Dynamics Observatory, courtesy of NASA, and is the first views of Venus passing in front of the Sun’s Corona. The second, featured below, is from the same satellite and is a close up of the planet as it begins to move across the face of the sun.

But by far the most impressive images come from NASA live’s feed which captured Venus’ early passage from the depths of space into the Sun’s corona. Captured with a AIA 171 wavelength channel (that’s 171 angstrom, extreme ultraviolet) one thing which really stands out are the coronal loops. These are the extended arcs which reach up from the surface of the Sun, where plasma moves along magnetic field lines. The brightest visible spots are the locations where the magnetic field s exceptionally strong near the surface.

This second video comes from NASA’s ESA SOHO spacecraft, which tracked the planets approach before SDO took over and began tracking it across the Sun. Images and feeds are still coming in and can be expected to do for some time. For those people in Hawaii, Alaska and South Korea, the view of the passage is expected to be ideal since it will coincide with their daylight hours. Those of us on this side of the world will just have to be content with what we can catch! I recommend everyone get out back with some protective eyewear – don’t stare directly into the Sun! – and see what they can see. Once in a lifetime people!

11 thoughts on “Once in a lifetime view of Venus

  1. Four nerds verging on geeks live in my house, of which I am one. One of our nerdiest but fun conversations centered around the question “Would you rather go to space or the bottom of the ocean?” Hands down the answer was space.
    I once dreamed that my son, now 21, would one day go to space and walk on Mars. He is no longer a child who dreams of space, although it still intrigues, and space seems a distant childhood dream of his. But even for myself, at the ripe old age of 41, the idea of going to space is a bright hope, even though I know it is unattainable and unrealistic. But, given the chance, I would go.
    This post reminds me of the awesomeness of our great universe, of the chaotic randomness, of the beauty of this world and the things we have to be grateful for, and of how utterly minuscule we people really are in the grand scheme of things.

      1. Why don’t you start a new group based on this new idea. It’s too early and perhaps too much for Lyn but, in your hands it could take off sooner rather than later. Whenever you’re ready, SERIOUSLY, I’m in to participate.

      2. Doh! Okay, you’ve inspired me. I would like to go through Writer’s Worth of course, just so I can access the talent pool there. Mainly, I just want Lyn to okay it since she’s kinda like our boss.

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