Friday, June 8, 2012

The Transit of Venus 2012

I don't know why the whole idea of the transit of Venus across the sun  a few days ago fascinated me, but it did.  I didn't necessarily want to watch it live ( not that I could have) but the idea of this, particular, once in a lifetime event has a rather mystical appeal for me.  Transits of  Venus are evidently extremely rare events and always occur in pairs.  The last pair occurred  on December 9, 1874 and December 6, 1882 and the next pair of transits will occur in December 2117, and in December 2125 respectively.

I think what really amazes me the most is that the internet made it possible for all the world to participate in the event via everything from  real-time live streaming and blogging  to Tweets and Facebook shares.  At the time of the last transit pair  1874 &1882, receiving a telegram  was a big deal and photos involved bulky equipment and glass plates.  Thus only a lucky few viewed the transit. The general public would not have known or cared about such a rare celestial event.  How lucky we are and how much has changed. The internet brings us together as a global family in so many ways.  This is just one more very important way in which humankind is bound together as one.  I wonder what the world will be like when the event repeats in 2117.  We will either be one big happy family or back in the stone age again.

The time lapse video from NASA below,  boils the entire seven hour transit down to a few awesome minutes.  Think about this as you watch it:  that little dark ball is the planet Venus, which is actually bigger than our Earth by a bit.  Now think about the size and power of the sun.  The energy is palpable and un-imaginably powerful.

Awe-inspiring is too small a word. 

1 comment:

Ahab said...

"Now think about the size and power of the sun. The energy is palpable and un-imaginably powerful."

It definitely reminds us of the huge magnitude of our sun, and how small our world is by comparison.