Chasing Venus: Observing the Transits of Venus 1631-2004
What is a Transit of Venus?
Discovering the Transits: The 1631 and 1639 Transits
Measuring the Universe: The 1761 and 1769 Transits
New Possibilities: The 1874 and 1882 Transits
The Transits of 2004 and 2012
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Education and Events
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The Transits of 2004 and 2012
On June 8, 2004, the first transit of Venus since December 1882 will occur. Technological innovations have made observing the transit of Venus unnecessary in the search for the Earth-Sun distance. In 1976 astronomers timed the echoes of radar signals sent to Venus from Earth to calculate an Earth-Sun distance of 92,955,589 miles. Still, their history and extreme rarity make transits of Venus special occasions for skywatchers. Some astronomers are studying this transit to learn if they can use transit observations to discover planets orbiting around distant stars.

If you want to observe the transit, use the same precautions you would take as if viewing a solar eclipse. Click here to learn more about safe viewing. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, TRY TO SEE THE TRANSIT OF VENUS BY LOOKING DIRECTLY AT THE SUN!

In America, the 2004 transit is visible only in the eastern half of the country and ends shortly after sunrise. The Sun will be low in the sky, so you will need a clear northeastern horizon to get a good view.

The 2012 transit will be slightly better, although American viewers still will not see the entire event, which begins in the late afternoon and ends after sunset. West Coast observers will see more than those in the East.

June 8, 2004
From Washington, D.C.:
Sunrise to 7:00 AM (EDT) - Venus nears end of transit
7:06 AM (EDT) - Venus begins to exit Sun's disk
7:26 AM (EDT) - Transit completed

June 6, 2012
From Washington, D.C.:
6:04 PM (EDT) - Transit begins

From Los Angeles, California:
3:06 PM (PDT) - Transit begins

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