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Transit of Venus latest sky spectacle

A composite image of the transit of Venus made from photos taken every 30 minutes from about 7:30am to 1pm Wednesday in Komatsu, Ishikawa Prefecture.

Publication Date : 07-06-2012


The planet Venus passed in front of the sun on Wednesday in a 6-1/2-hour phenomenon called the transit of Venus. Rain clouds often blocked the view in the Kanto region, but it could be seen more clearly in western Japan.

It was the last time for the phenomenon will be observed this century. It will not occur again until Dec 11, 2117.

The celestial event occurs when Earth and Venus align with the sun--a rare occasion because Venus' orbit is inclined by 3.4 degrees from the Earth's.

Although the path on which Venus passed in front of the sun was almost straight, multiple exposure photos show the planet as an arc of black dots on the sun's face because of the Earth's rotation.

Venus started to travel across the sun at about 7:10am from its left side, moving upward toward the upper edge before coming downward and leaving the sun's face at around 1:47pm.

The transit of Venus could be observed in its entirety in Japan this time. When the phenomenon last occurred in June 2004, it was interrupted by sunset.

Events were held nationwide to observe the celestial event, including one at an observatory in Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture, which has been closed since its large telescope was damaged by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.

Although it was mostly overcast, enthusiasts who gathered at the facility became overjoyed when the sun was briefly observed for two minutes starting at 9:06am.


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