On June 6, 2012 a really important and historic event takes place: The last transit of Venus that anyone living on this planet today can expect to watch. Due its rarity and its importance for science in history this transit will be one of the most important celestial events of the 21. century. In Europe the whole transit can be observed to the north of the Polar circle, for instance in Norway: Venus transits the midnight Sun!
Since the transit takes place between 00:04 and 06:54 European time (MET) most of Europe will only get the last part of it. Portugal and most of Spain will miss it completely. In the USA the beginning of the transit will be visible. Most of South-America will miss all of it.
HISTORIC TRANSIT OF VENUS ON THE MIDNIGHT SUN
However, due to the midnight Sun the entire transit will be visible from Northern Norway (as well as Sweden, some areas in Finland and Spitsbergen). A number of public events, as well as live streaming and webcasts are planned for this historic occasion. If you want to experience something quite unique it could be a good idea to head for the far north! More information will be available here soon.
The last transit of Venus for more than 100 years! Click on the map for better resolution.
Illustration: Fred Espenak, NASA
VENUS TRANSITS THROUGH HISTORY
Since Venus transits do not occur very often – twice with eight years apart about every hundred years - not everybody get the opportunity to experience this unique phenomenon.
The phenomenon also made researchers in the past to wonder and also to do the strangest things. One of them risked both life, health and marriage in order to witness our sister planets exclusive journey across the solar disk.
PHENOMENA EXPECTED DURING THE TRANSIT
Several unusual phenomena can be observed during the transit. They were witnessed and photographically documented on June 8, 2004. That transit was the first occasion in modern times that a planet with an atmosphere transited the Sun. During the previous five transits of Venus observed from 1639-1882 there were several reports of curious phenomena.
MODERN MEASUREMENTS OF THE DISTANCE TO VENUS
Today the distances to Venus and to the Sun are known with great accuracy. The breakthrough came in 1961. For the first time scientists were able to measure the distance in a direct way using radar signals emitted from the ground.
THE TRANSIT MAY HELP US TO FIND EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE
On June 6, 2012 a transit of Venus occurs – a celestial phenomenon of exceptional rarity and importance. It gives us a unique opportunity to learn how life on distant exoplanets can be detected. We already have the technology necessary to find relatively advanced forms of life on this planets, the dress rehearsal comes on June 6, 2012.