Venus in Transit

June 2004 saw the first passage., known as a ‘transit` of the planet Venus across the face of the Sun in 122 years. Transits have helped shape our view of the whole Universe, as Heather Cooper and Nigel Henbest explain

A. On 8 June 2004, more than half the population of the world were treated to a rare astronomical event. For over six hours, the planet Venus steadily inched its way over the surface of the Sun. This “transit` of Venus was the first since 6 December 1882. On that occasion, the American astronomer Professor Simon Newcomb led a party to South Africa to observe the event. They were based at a girls’ school, where – if is alleged – the combined forces of three schoolmistresses outperformed the professionals with the accuracy of their observations.

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