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
To register for the program, visit
select "For Amateur Astronomers," and then select registration
at the top of the screen.
For questions about the program, contact
Lou Mayo at NASA.
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