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Transit of Venus - June 8, 2004, Pittsburgh, PA

On June 8, 2004, an exceedingly rare celestial event occurred - the transit of the planet Venus across the face of the sun as viewed from earth.  This phenomenon is so rare that until June 8, it had not been witnessed by any currently living human being - the last such transit occurred in 1882!  This transit lasted over six hours, and was visible in its entirety over much of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
 
Further west, only the last 90 minutes or so of the transit were visible in eastern North America, and it was not visible at all in western North America as it started and completed overnight in that area.
 
This first picture below was taken just a few minutes after local sunrise (5:50 AM EDT) in Pittsburgh.  At the time the sun was dim enough in the morning haze that it could be viewed with the naked eye, and the large black spot in the lower right quadrant of the solar disk was easily visible with no optical aid.  All pictures were digiscoped using a Nikon Coolpix 4500 handheld to a Leica 77-mm APO spotting scope - proof that birding gear can yield some pretty cool results when applied to other pursuits!

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Here, Venus is shown about fifty minutes after local sunrise, now much closer to the edge of the solar disk as it proceeded across the face.   By this time the sun was at full daytime brightness, and an ND-5 filter had to be applied to the telescope for safe viewing, which reduces the sun's luminocity by a factor of 100,000!

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Finally, the "egress" phase is shown here, where the Venusian disk comes in contact with the edge of the solar disk as it completes its transit.  (The time of first contact with the solar disk is called "ingress"; sadly, it was not visible from the eastern US as it occurred around 1:30 AM local time.)  This picture was taken about four minutes into the egress (which itself lasted 20 minutes), nearly one hour and fifteen minutes after local sunrise.  A spectacular show!

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Transits of Venus come in pairs (eight years apart) about once every 120 years.  If you missed this show, the next chance will be in 2012.  After that, another is not due until the twenty-second century!

Photos by Geoff Malosh

Unless explicitly indicated otherwise in the photo caption, all photos on this website were taken by and are 2003-2013 by Geoff Malosh. Unauthorized usage of these photographs for any purpose is strictly forbidden. If you are interested in using any photo for publication or if you are interested in obtaining a print, contact me at pomarine -AT- earthlink -DOT- net.