Transit of Venus: Readers share photos from rare event
Astronomy enthusiasts and those hoping to catch a glimpse of a rare astronomical show gathered around the world Tuesday to view the Transit of Venus. The planet won't pass between the Earth and sun again for 105 years, on Dec. 11, 2117.
The planet appeared as a pinprick at the edge of the sun at around 3:06 p.m. Sky gazers viewed the nearly seven-hour transit through solar glasses and telescopes or projected the image onto paper, the ground and sometimes themselves.
Those watching saw what has been seen only eight times since the invention of the telescope — a dark Venus, slithering across the surface of the sun. Astronomers were watching the celestial event from all corners of Earth.
At Caltech, about 1,000 people were expected to watch the transit. About 3:10 p.m., three minutes after the start, the edge of Venus began to come into view — a tiny indentation in the sun's glow. In celebration, Caltech's pep band struck up a rousing rendition of John Philip Sousa's 1883 "Transit of Venus March," which marked the transit of 1882.
A short walk away, several hundred people, including dozens of children, lined up on the athletic field behind the Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics. Orange T-shirt-wearing members of the Caltech Astronomy Outreach group, a graduate student organization, handed out protective glasses and manned seven telescopes.
"It's like watching grass grow," said 93-year-old Don Nicholson, describing Venus' incremental progression, most of which was visible locally before sunset. "But if you were told that grass only grows every 100 years, you'd probably want to watch it."
— Eryn Brown, Ron Lin and Samantha Schaefer
Photo: Sky watchers at Mt. Wilson saw a screen projection of Venus crossing the face of the sun, known as a transit, occurring for the last time until 2117. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times