The Transit is coming!
Tomorrow Venus will crawl across the sun for the second and last time of our lives (presuming no unexpected crazy new enhanced cyborg life lengths or planet/sun-moving thrusters are in our futures (fingers remained crossed)). After tomorrow, the next transit will be in 2117. So get your solar glasses and pinhole cameras ready!
Why is this such a rare event?
Venus rotation isn’t exactly in the same plane as the Earth’s. While Venus and the Earth roughly align about once every 19 or 20 months, our celestial neighbor usually just flirts with the edges of the sun – preventing sweet shadowy solar crossings.
BUT NOT TOMORROW!
Tomorrow we get the full Venus silhouette!
Why is this a big deal?
It’s mostly cool factor and some sweet history. From its first observance in 1639 through its pass in 1882, scientists used Venus and parallax geometry to approximate out how far we were from the sun. Neat! Their endeavors included sending out teams to different locations on the planet to time the pass of Venus across the sun. The global teams then returned and refined their numbers again and again – all the while learning more about our extraterrestrial surroundings.
Wait… what about Mercury? Wouldn’t that happen way more frequently?
Actually, yes. It does. Mercury transits more often than Venus. The next one is in 2016 then 2019 then 2032 – it’s just not as cool because Mercury is so tiny.
I’m going to be trying to take some pictures of the Venus’ transit tomorrow. Unfortuantely, potential is looking grim.