Transit of Venus

6 June 2012
If you miss this transit of Venus, you’ll have to wait more than 100 years for the next one

A transit of Venus occurs when Venus is observed from Earth to move across the face of the Sun. The first transit since 1882 occurred on 8 June 2004. The next transit will occur on 6 June 2012 and if the sky is clear will be visible in Sydney from 8.16am (1st contact) and ending at 2.44pm (last contact).

Transits of Venus currently occur in the following pattern of time: 8 years, 121.5 years, 8 years, 105.5 years, 8 years, 121.5 years, 8 years, 105.5 years, etc.

The last transit of Venus occurred in 2004 – before which the previous two transits occurred in December 1882 and December 1874.

Transits of Venus are historically important events. They are especially important for Australia as James Cook’s main reason for undertaking the voyage on which he charted Australia’s east coast was to observe the 1769 transit from the island of Tahiti. By observing a transit, astronomers could for the first time calculate the distance from the Earth to the Sun with some accuracy.

If you miss the 2012 transit of Venus, you’ll have to wait until December 2117 and December 2125 for the following transits….

Sydney Observatory will have special programs available on 6 June 2012 to give you the best chance in Sydney of experiencing this once- or twice- in a lifetime event. Details will be available closer to the date.


13 responses to “Transit of Venus

  • An explanation of why the times of transit vary would also be interested, only superficial information was given on all the TV stations supposedly reporting the event

  •  I remember in 2004 viewing the transit in a manner that involved a telescope and a pieces of white cardboard, However, I didn’t set this up, someone else did so I’m not sure how to work and I’d love to do it this time, Can anyone advise?

    •  Hello Spechey. Projecting the image through a small telescope is a safe way of looking at the Sun and the transit of Venus. Make sure that you remove the finder if your telescope has one and that you keep your back to the Sun at all times. The same goes for everyone around you, especially children. Use the shadow of the telescope to point it at the Sun. See attached image.

  • I read 5,000 pages of waffle on another site and did not get the same info I got on this site in the first paragraph. Please God/Vishnu/ Budda/Mohammed or whoever is in charge – keep the clouds away.

    • It resulted in Captain James Cook ‘discovering’ what is now called Australia! So if not for that I, as well as many of my fellow Aussies, may well not have existed…

    •  Cook was sent to Tahiti to view the transit then had  sealed orders for what to do next. Next was ‘discovering’ Australia for the British. His orders were to continue west and look for ‘The Great South Land’.

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