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Transit of Venus -
June 8, 2004

For the first time in more than 100 years, astronomers on Planet Earth will be able to view a Transit of Venus. On June 8, 2004, Venus will appear to travel across the face of the sun. This exciting and rare astronomical event can be see by observers in most of the world.

Venus transits currently occur at intervals of 8, 105.5, 8, and 121.5 years. Only six transits of Venus have occurred since the invention of the telescope.

Click this button to learn more about the Transit of Venus and how you can observe this exciting event.

Venus Transit Certificate

Participate in the NASA / Astronomical League Venus Transit certificate program. Visit the Astronomical League website for instructions.

To register for the program, visit http://sunearthday.nasa.gov  and select "For Amateur Astronomers," and then select registration at the top of the screen.

For questions about the program, contact Lou Mayo at NASA.

Venus


NASA Image of Venus

  • Venus is the 2nd planet from the Sun.
  • The planet Venus has a diameter of 7700 miles.
  • At a distance of 67 million miles, 
    it takes 225 days to circle the Sun.
  • One day lasts 244 days of Earth time.

A. Venus is named after the Roman goddess of love. It is the planet closest in size to Earth. It is shrouded in a deep layer of clouds that reflect light very well. It is therefore a very bright object in our sky. Because they orbit very close to the sun, Mercury and Venus are called morning and evening "stars," as they can only be seen in the morning or evening. Aside from the sun and the moon, Venus is the brightest object in our sky.

B. The surface of Venus is often compared to the biblical notion of Hell. It is very hot (475 C), the air pressure is almost 100 times that of Earth, and it often rains sulfuric acid. The atmosphere is almost entirely carbon dioxide, which creates a greenhouse effect some 300,000 times that of Earth's. This is the cause of the intense heat. The atmosphere is also a secondary atmosphere. Its origin is in the plentiful volcanic eruptions on the planet. These eruptions can be seen indirectly from Earth since they spew large amounts of ions into the atmosphere, which tend to cause enormous lightning storms.

C. The surface of Venus is so hot that periodically the outer crust may melt. From radar images of the surface, it can be seen that there are many volcanoes. The surface is roughly divided up between 65 per cent low rolling plains, 25 per cent highlands, with the rest being volcanic areas. There are two major highland, or mountainous areas, Ishtar and Aphrodite (Ishtar is the Babylonian goddess of love, and Aphrodite, the Greek). Ishtar is about the size of Australia and Aphrodite is approximately the size of South America.

D. Although Venus has many volcanoes, there is no evidence of plate tectonic activity. The currents in the mantle are deforming the crust, and forming large surface bulges, called coronae, and mountains, such as the Maxwell Monte, which are almost twice as high as Mount Everest.

E. Venus is unique in the solar system because it spins, when viewed from a perspective looking down on Earth's North Pole, in a clockwise direction. All of the other planets, except Uranus, exhibit a counter-clockwise rotation with respect to our North Pole. This odd rotation makes Venus the slowest rotating planet, and contributes to its meteorological patterns. An impact with a large object was probably the cause for this aberrant behavior


Named after the ancient Roman goddess of beauty and love, to the naked eye, planet Venus is the brightest of the planets in our sky. This is partly due to its size and partly due to its high albedo or reflecting power. It was once called Hesperus, when it was the morning star and Phosphorus, as an evening star. Venus, with its diameter of 12,104 kilometers, is almost a twin of Earth. Though it's almost the size of the earth, it's not the same as earth. It's a rocky sphere blanketed by dense yellowish clouds. The yellowish color is due to presence of sulfuric acid. For a naked eye, Venus can be very bright, at times almost as bright as the moon. It's easily noticeable in the evening or morning sky at such times. Sometimes, if you are sure of its exact position; you can even see Venus in broad daylight. Several amateur astronomers have taken photographs of Venus in broad daylight. Venus also has its phases like the moon and Mercury. During it's crescent phase, you will notice a faint glow on the darned region. This is called Ashen Light. 

Manoj Pai, Ahmedabad, Gujurat, India


Earn The Astronomical League's Award for Observing the Solar System

Planetary Club Rules and Regulations

Comparative Data on the Terrestrial Planets

Quantity

Earth

Mercury

Venus

Mars

Equatorial diameter (Km)

12756

4878

12104

6794

Density (kg/m')

5517

5500

5250

3933

Mass (Earth-1)

1

0.055

0.815

0.107

Surface gravity (Earth=1)

1

0.38

0.903

0.38

Escape velocity (km/s)

11.2

4.3

10.36

5.03

Mean distance from sun (Au)

1

0.3870987

0.7233322

1.5236915

Mean distance from sun (miles)

9.3x10(7)

3.599x10(7)

6.7239x10(7)

1.4136x10(8)

Mean distance from sun (10(6) Km)

149.6

57.9

108.2

227.9

Orbital period (Earth years)

1

0.241

0.615

1.88

Orbital period (Earth days)

365.24

87.97

224.68

686.95

Orbital velocity (Km/sec)

29.79

47.89

35.03

24.13

Avg. Surface Temperature (K)

280

400

730

210


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