Photography : Astronomy : Transit of Venus 2012 Timelapse

Less than two weeks after the solar eclipse, Venus crossed the face of the Sun in a once-in-a-hundred-years transit event. Such events are important beyond their rarity: they are an opportunity to measure the distance to Venus and set the absolute physical size scale of the solar system.

A transit-viewing event was organized in Las Cruces; however, since I wasn't involved in planning, I got to take far more pictures. I snapped shots every ~15 minutes and then culled out the best of them to make the below montage. The Sun was also sporting some gorgeous sunspots that day. The Sun set halfway though the transit, making the last image of Venus much redder. In fact, it was an unusually ruddy sunset due to massive wildires in the Gila wilderness (the larges in NM history).

While Venus is sometimes called Earth's "sister" planet due to a similar size and a thick, cloudy atmosphere, Venus is a hellish world. The thick carbon dioxide clouds trap a great deal of the Sun's heat, making the surface hot enough to melt lead. The air is so thick that the pressure at the surface is over 90 times Earth's atmospheric pressure. Astronomers find Venus fascinating as a foil to Earth's conditions.


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