This post highlights two significant events this week; first, the transit of Venus, the last one of this century. (Next transit: 2117.) There are many lovely transit images out there, including the above by Chris Hetlage. To show them all up, transit master Thierry Legault captured Venus AND the Hubble Space Telescope from Australia.
Occurring in pairs separated by over a hundred years, there have now been only eight transits of Venus since the invention of the telescope in 1608. The next will be in December of 2117. But many modern telescopes and cameras were trained on this week’s Venus transit, capturing the planet in rare silhouette against the Sun. In this sharp telescopic view from Georgia, USA, a narrowband H-alpha filter was used to show the round planetary disk against a mottled solar surface with dark filaments, sunspots, and prominences. The transit itself lasted for 6 hours and 40 minutes. Historically, astronomers used timings of the transit from different locations to triangulate the distance to Venus, while modern astronomers actively search for planets that transit distant suns.
I also wanted to acknowledge the “transit” of Ray Bradbury, 91, who passed away earlier this week. He wrote many incredible stories, but The Martian Chronicles is the one I remember most fondly. My favorite cover art for that book is below.