The Transit of Venus: A historical perspective

How the transit of Venus has aided scientific discovery.

Apart from being a beautiful spectacle in the sky, the Transit of Venus has provided scientists through the ages with opportunities to find out more about our place in the universe.

This video from provides the history of past transists and how astronomers used it to make calculations about the nature of our solar system, from measuring the size of Venus to determining Earth's distance from the sun.

The rare alignment between Sun, Venus and the Earth will also be aiding scientists in the upcoming transit on 5/6 June 2012. As venus partially obscures the Sun's light, scientists using the Kepler space observatory will be aided in their search for distant exoplanets.

You can find more resources relating to the transit of Venus in our forthcoming blog post, or watch this video from Andrew Steele explaining what happens in terms of orbits during a transit.


Space & Time



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Related Links and Media

  • Global view of the surface of Venus.

    Image: NASA
    Licence: Copyright free

  • The orbital position and rotation of the planet Venus shown at 10 Earth-day intervals from 0 to 250 days.

    Image: NASA
    Licence: Copyright free

  • Venus Orbit.

    Image: Lookang
    cc_by-sa License: Creative Commons

  • Terrestrial planet size comparisons: Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars

    Image: NASA
    Licence: Copyright Free

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