Monthly Archives: May 2012

Venus and Earth: worlds apart

At first glance, Venus appears much like the Earth: their size and mass are fairly similar and so are their densities. Like Earth, Venus’ rocks are likely mostly basaltic, created during intense periods of volcanic activity when the planets formed … Continue reading

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Measuring the size of the Solar System – Parallax

By guest blogger Peter Bond Edmond Halley’s method, which involved observations of a transit made from widely spaced places, was based on the principle of parallax. This uses the fact that objects appear to shift position against a fixed background … Continue reading

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Measuring the size of the Solar System – the ‘black drop’ problem

By guest blogger Peter Bond Despite the best efforts by astronomers who voyaged to far flung reaches of the Earth to watch the transits, the results of the observations was not as conclusive or accurate as had been hoped. The … Continue reading

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Measuring the size of the Solar System – transits through the ages

By guest blogger Peter Bond The first person to predict a transit of Venus was the German mathematician and astronomer, Johannes Kepler, who calculated that one would take place on 6 December 1631. Unfortunately, the transit was not visible from … Continue reading

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Transits of Mercury

Since Mercury and Venus are the only planets that lie inside the Earth’s orbit they are the only planets that can pass between Earth and the Sun to produce a transit. The orbital plane of Venus is not exactly aligned … Continue reading

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Venus exploration timeline

While ESA’s Venus Express is currently the only spacecraft in orbit around Venus, many spacecraft have returned data from the planet over the last half-century. As space- and ground-based telescopes prepare to watch Venus during the transit on 5-6 June, … Continue reading

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ESA Euronews: Unveiling Venus

It can be called the morning or evening star, depending on where you are or what time it is, but it is anything but a star. In fact, it is one of our nearest planetary neighbours. Venus and Mars may … Continue reading

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Transit Terminology

Astronomers use different terms to describe the four main phases of a transit: Ingress, exterior (or first contact): the point at which Venus’ disc is just touching the outer edge of the Sun. Shortly after, the planet appears to make … Continue reading

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Can I see the transit?

For a first glance look, check this map to see if you are suitably located to observe the 2012 transit. The 2012 transit will be visible in its entirety only from the western Pacific, eastern Asia, eastern Australia and high … Continue reading

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How do I see the transit?

Whatever method you choose to observe this historical event, please be extremely cautious. NEVER look at the Sun with your naked eye or through ordinary sunglasses, and especially not through an unprotected telescope – this will cause permanent blindness. Instead, … Continue reading

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