Venus Transit 2012 and some facts about Venus

(Image Nasa Venus transit 2004)
On June 6th. (in Europe) a historical astronomical event will take place. And as long as this is the last time in our lifetimes that we will be able to watch this event, because it happens next on the 11th. of December 2117, i though to bring it to your attention. And so that this does not become comepletly OT, i will add some facts about Venus itself and about the planets volcanism.

Image found on Flickr

In case the sky is overcast you can watch several livestreams: (If you watch them all, you will be really busy;)

Hubble will turn to the moon to watch the transit. From the light that reflects from the moon Nasa wants to draw conclusions about Venus atmosphere. Of course the gases in Venus atmosphere are well known but by studying the results scientists hope to learn how to study atmospheres of extrasolar planets..

Historical transits of Venus
Most likely no human being ever watched a this event before the year 1639 even though it is visible to the naked eye and no shade to the eyes is necessary when the sun is close to the horizon. But you need very good calculations to be prepared and try to glimpse it and those calculations were not available till much later. There are hints that the Persian astronomer Avicenna could maybe have watched the transit in 1032.
1627 Johannes Kepler published Ephemarides in his “Rudoliphinische Tafeln, Rudolphine Tables“. Predicting a Venustransit for 1631 but could not watch it due to his death 1630.

Transit of Venus,  December 4th 1639

Kepler predicted the next Venus transit for 1761 because he thought in 1639 Venus would miss the sun, but the young british astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks, recalculated in late November 1639 and found the next transit due on December 4th 1639. He and his friend William Crabtree were probably the fist humans to ever watch such an event and still humankind would have forgotten about it, if Johannes Hevelius  would not have published the report by Horrocks in 1662. Horrocks calculated the Suns Parallax too and found the sun is much farther away than previously thought.

Edmond Halley viewed a transit of Mercury in 1677 and reached the conclusion that with accurate spottings of transits of Mercury and Venus the distance between earth and the Sun could be determined. The method he developed using triangulation,  states that the next transit should be viewed from different spots on earth, as far apart as possible. He knew he would not live to see the next acurance due in 1761 but sent out an urgent request, that his methods should be used with the next transit of Venus.

( Here is a german paper on how Halley calculated the transit,with graphics)

Transit of Venus, June 5th. 1761

On June 5, 1761 the transit of Venus was observed by 176 scientists from 117 stations all over the world.

The precise observation was hindered through a phenomenon called the ”black drop” As a result the distance to the sun was calculated to be between 125 and 155 million kilometer.

You can find a list of all scientists and locations in this paper

The Russian scientist Michail Lomonossow noticed a seam around the planet and concluded that Venus has an atmosphere.

Transit of Venus 3rd. of June 1769

Again many expeditions were sent out to observe the transit from different places on Earth. The most famous scientist watching this transit was James Cook who observed from Point Venus set up by him on Tahiti, during his voyage around the world. Again the “black drop” caused a disturbance, but the scientists knew it would happen and were better prepared. Later Jerome Lalande calculated the distance to the sun to153 +/-1million kilometer which is accurate up to 2% of the real distance, so Halley´s method had proved to give good results.

Even though there were different methodes to distiguish the solar parallax by then, the transits of Venus 1874 and 1882 rose even more scientific research programms worldwide and 1874 was used as a rehearsal for 1882.

In 2004 the distance earth sun was known with an accuracy of 100 meter, still the scientists recalculated the solar parallax again,partlyjust becauseof the fun torelive the workof the scientists in earlier days. The famous “black drop” could not be watched, so it was probaly due to lesser quality of the ancient telescopes. Here is a page on it by ESO the Eruopean South Observatory

Source:, among other sources.

Some facts about Venus (link toWikipedia)

Images taken from Wikipedia and by the Nasa´s Magelan probe.

Venus (link to Nasa) is the closest neigbour of the earth and its “sisterplanet” being about the same size. It revolves on an orbit second closest to the sun. To humanity it is known as the morning star as well as the evening star. It has a very thick atmosphere due, supposedly, to a “run away green house effect”. It spins opposite to all other planets and so a day on Venus is longer than a Venus-year.

Venus Volcanism

“The surface of Venus is dominated by volcanism and has produced more volcanoes than any other planet in the solar system. It has a surface that is 90% basalt, and about 65% of the planet consists of a mosaic of volcanic lava plains, indicating that volcanism played a major role in shaping its surface. The planet may have had a major global resurfacing event about 500 million years ago,from what scientists can tell from the density of impact craters on the surface. ” (  Wikipedia)

There are different types of volcanoes to be found on Venus.

Central-vent volcanoes: Like shield volcanoes on earth they are characterized by the radially dispersed lava flows extruded by the summit of the mountain. Some of those Volcanoes are really huge and have a diameter from around 100 kilometer. Two of the largest of these are Sif Mons (2 km high and 200 km in diameter) and Sapas Mons (1.5 km high and 400 km in diameter):
Pancake Domes: This variation of volcanoes are not found on earth and maybe unique. The pancakes are thought to be formed by highly viscous, silica-rich lava erupting under Venus’s high atmospheric pressure.
Scalloped margin domes or Ticks: The center appears like a dome but around the structure one can find odd lavaflows. The Ticks are not well understood.
Calderas: Like on earth those features most likely origin in a surface collapse, similar to those found on earth.
Arachnoids: They are so named because they resemble a spider’s web, featuring several concentric ovals surrounded by a complex network of radial fractures. It is not known whether the 250 or so features identified as arachnoids actually share a common origin or are the result of different geological processes.
Corona: A corona is immense circular to oblong structures, generally between 200 and 250 kilometer in diameter, although some can be as large as 1100 km across. These features appear to be unique to Venus.

Images of the Moon, Venus and Jupiter taken on March 3rd. and 4th. on my veranda with my mobile phone.


Additional information:

Venus Transit: A celestial rarity by Nasa.
Find out about the planet Venus' dramatic trip across the face of the sun in June 2012 in this infographic.
Source All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

223 thoughts on “Venus Transit 2012 and some facts about Venus

  1. Hi Karen, no i should have tried getting a screen shot but not sure how to off a camera image, i will learn in preparation thou. Anyone able to tell me how to get a screenshot in future? It was towards the centre of the ice covered area and for about 20 mins of what i saw, plus anytime before i looked.

    • Press “Print Screen” button on keyboard.

      Open Paint

      Choose option “Edit” and select “Paste”, then you can cut out the part you want, choose “New” and repeat

      Save as jpg (and not bitmap)

  2. Much appreciated. So much you can learn on here. Might have been unusual cloud over the glazier, but it really did look like smoke or steam. Will watch and capture screenshots next time.
    obviously with nothing happening it must of been cloud this time. Thanks all.

  3. Sea-bed exploration, tsunami evidence and sea level changes are all in this article about Santorini:

    Long-winded detail about tsunamis is here:

    And for the biggest tsunamis, in southern Australia:

  4. earthquake2012-06-06 17:12:57.6
    1hr 13min ago 43.74 N 28.86 W 30 mb 4.4 NORTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE

  5. The Alaska Volcano Observatory has put out a special “Katmai 1912 Eruption Centennial” Please don’t miss this. On the left side of the page be sure to click on “Related Videos”. There is a video in 16mm Kodascope from 1926. Also, click on “View a Slideshow”. Allow yourself some time. There are 71 AMAZING full screen pictures of Katmai volcanic cluster.

      • I don’t know… none of them contain any links.

        I think it’s a Karma thing. I have been digesting how to do Pareto Interpolation for some unknown reason… the only thing I can think of is for mortality calculations which I was farting around with the other day.

        Other than that I don’t know.

        • Done.
          Actually there was a link in the comments (see the remaining comment below). As a test, I tried to post a comment myself including this link – and it also went right into the spam dungeon.
          So there is probably nothing wrong with your Karma after all!

  6. Lets try this…

    In response to Lughduniense (June 6, 2012 at 20:11)


    The Irish quake is problematic… or at least vague in it’s parameter collection.

    No focal mechanism is provided, and a peek at the arrival times do not reveal whether the waves were compressional or not. (CD field) If we had those, we could sort of get an idea of the fault plane.

    However, there is an azimuth for the semi-major axis for the error ellipse. Assuming that the greatest error is going to be along the direction of motion, that would place the likely fault plane along a 100° or 280° bearing.

    Remember, it’s just a guess using a wild arsed unproven theory… but it beats nothing.

    As for depth, well, that’s still hard to resolve. EMSC gives it a fixed 10 km depth, USGS shows 3.0 km with an error of +/- 14.9 km. (*no, not above the water)

    Saved from spam dungeons by volcanocafe2.

    • Thanks!! & I came across some odd Irish quake facts:
      Ireland’s last big earthquake came at 4am on November 9, 1852. Oddly, after the earthquake, a sultry, oppressive heat and deathly calm is reported to have taken over Dublin city.

      Whimpering dogs; shattered chimneys; flickering streetlights; sparrows thrown from their roosts and found dead on Mountjoy Square; trembling foundations and objects falling from walls were some of the eerie effects.

      The 1852 earthquake is thought to have measured 5.4 on the Richter scale.

      It was an Irishman Robert Mallet who coined the term ‘seismology’ and made the first ‘seismometer’ in 1846.

  7. I loved the discussion on Venus. Always has been one of my favs. Volcanism there probably suppressed much harder than what happens under Katla! Its not 700 meters of compressed ice, but kms of thick heavy atmosphere, as heavy as kms under ocean.

    I think its much easy to push through the 700 meters ice!

    Anyways, this then makes us think, does Venus has continental drift, and why? Is continental drift caused by the planet rotation, a magnetic iron core? Why Mars has extinct volcanism (but active in the past and large), only questions, questions, questions.

    Regarding Venus terraforming: hmm, planting trees (or even cyanobacteria) would be nice to remove all that CO2 except for the fact of the high pressures and high temperatures. I do not know of any extremophiles living at such high temps or pressures! So far, bacteria can survive up to 150-200ºC but not much more than that! 400ºC is way too hot. We must cool it down, first, before introducing life. Perhaps chemical reactions is the best way to go. One has CO2 and H2S, SO2. One must fixate that C/carbon into a solid form, into the ground. Because CH4 is also a greenhouse gas, and I cannot think of another possible carbon product. Perhaps humans in the far future, if global warming runs crazy on Earth and we fix it, humans will then apply this to Venus.

    But I think its easier to terraform Mars.

    • Irpsit, i read a lot about Venus lately as you may have noticed, i found the remark often, that Venus seems to have had a complet renewal of its surface in the not so very distant past. They think this because of the lack of craters on the surface. Did you maybe find more explanation about that? ( That was really odd, they did not watch a volcano erupt on venus so far, but if the surface was completly overturned only like (some) hundred million years ago, to me it is hard to understand that there was such extreme volcanism ( or plate tectonics or ????) and now you see nothing) The planets were created billions of years ago not millions. I hope you get the point of what i dont understand.
      Anyone else know more about that?

      • Hmm, I wonder if the fact that the atmospere is at 93 Atü and temperature 467C prevents the solidification of many minerals may explain that?

        • This is one of the points where physicists have a totally different view on reallity than most people.
          For us nothing is solid, it is just the rate of time for something to flow or degrade that might be long.
          And as things get hotter the rate of flow increases quite rapidly untill it passes above the solidus point and become truly liquid.
          There is actually no need to use volcanism as a reason for widespread re-arranging of the surface on Venus. High windspead of heavy atmosphere, spongy rocks slowly oozing around, and pure abration would do most of the work anyhow. Add to that all sorts of weird sulphuro-chemical processes and you really do not need volcanoes.

          I still believe there is a large amount of volcanism, but it should mainly produce very low volcanoes due to the lava no solidifying for a long time, think ultrasloped shield volcanoes.

    • On terraforming. As far as i got, it would be really hard to do also because of 2 facts. First, a venus-day is longer than a year because it revolves opposite to any other planet and so one side points to the sun for 243 earth-days, that means one really hot side and the other would be really cold without the dense atmosphere.
      And because of this very slow rotation venus does not have a magnetic field springing from its interior like earth does. ( And Jupiter and Saturn and many more)
      It does have a magnetic field which only happens because of the interaction of the solar wind with its upper atmosphere and only on the side which points towards the sun.
      Mars used to have a magnetic field like earth and an atmosphere and liquid water on its surface, but lost it. I read that scientists believe its atmosphere was blown away more easily because of the lack of a magnetic field which acts like a shield against the solar wind.

  8. One more thing:

    Does anyone knows why in, in the Hubble AIA193 image of Venus just as it transits the edge of the Sun, we can see the Sun right through the Venus disk! Its really weird!

    So, is Venus transparent to other non visible light radiations or are these strange defraction effects? Any idea?

    I am not refering to the obvious fact that you can ALSO see the disk of Venus refracting the light of the Sun around its atmosphere, just before entering the Sun completely, but this is of course expectable. I only seen the “transparent” Venus in image AIA193 of hubble, not on the other images.

    • I think I might have come with an explanation, just as fast as I starred to this strange mystery. Maybe the pic was taken with a CCD camera and pixels are still emiting the light from a previous capture, seconds earlier. Just liuke ghost light effect when you blink at strong lights and close your eyes… Maybe this?

  9. My plans on climbing up on the roof to watch the transit did not work out because of the nasty weather. No sun, no transit, no climbing. But instead of that a capture of the last minutes:

    • Abstract of the Dutch text: Orvill was driven over by a car and after two days of mourning his owner thought he’d better do something nice with him. He spent 6 months in the freezer next to the croquettes, to give him time to come up with something really good. Orvill was named after one of the Wright brothers, he was meant to fly! And besides, he adored birds too…

  10. Just found this being discussed on Avcan FB Page.

    Translated from Spanish.

    ,, The Government of the Canary Islands has met recently with a team of experts from the prestigious Institute Vulcanian of Wichita, in the U.S., to try to find a solution to the gas fumes that continue sprouting from the main crater in the calm sea, on the island of El Hierro.This team, led by Professor Walter Mitta, has been working on a novel technique that expect to put into practice in two weeks and could definitely restore tranquillity in the area and give a natural phenomenon that has altered the quiet life of the inhabitants of the island closed.American scientists, with the collaboration of a few well-known laboratories and logistical support of one of the ships in the area, be deposited with a capsule of aero-just giant network at the mouth of the volcano.This capsule formed by a concentrated, according to reports from the laboratory would be to millions of pills, must be thrown into the sea and guided through a sophisticated radar system – the same using the long-range missiles of NATO–to fall right in the Centre of the crater.The capsule, once inside, gradually release a huge dose of simethicone, the known active principle of the drug, which will cause a sufficiently important endogenous reaction as to put an end to the gas.The complexity of the operation, which should take into account the State of the sea, underwater currents and commonly known as “marine burping” – spontaneous gas of some intensity – emanations is what try to bend over these last few weeks members of the team.The Oceanographic ship Hesperides testing with sand-laden placebos.According to Walter Mitta, launch and deposit not only have to be precise, but they must be made in a certain time because otherwise the capsule would undo before reaching the goal.”We have one of the best pitchers in the world, James Flato capsules” he claimed Mitta. “It was that advised Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) in the final scene of the star wars.” “If someone can guide that capsule in such terrible conditions, that’s it”For the moment, simulations with placebos are underway and the results are very promising.,,

  11. “prestigious Institute Vulcanian of Wichita” WHO???

    Oh my God, the idiots are going to plug up the safety valve.
    This will get nasty. I will never stop being surprised by the idiocy of them.

    Thankfully this scheme is to expensive to ever be performed in reallity.

    Bloody moorons.

    • what a lot of …..get his highness to sit on it for a one way ticket, nah wouldn’t work needs more umpf

  12. This is a test

    Test 1

    a     b     c     d
    1     2     3     4

    Test 2

    Mary had a little lamb, it’s fleece as white as snow
    And everywhere that Mary went,
    She was busted for being a ###

    Test 3

    Musician Ratings


    Belle & Sebastian
    Michael Bolton

    Bentley Rhythm Ace
    Mariah Carey

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