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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 June, 2004, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Venus completes heavenly transit
Venus transits the Sun
Venus was seen as a black dot against the Sun in Scottish skies
A number of events have taken place in Scotland to mark the planet Venus crossing the face of the Sun.

Venus appeared as a black dot as it passed between the Earth and the Sun between 0620 BST and 1224 BST.

The Scottish events were organised to celebrate the six-hour event, which last took place in 1882.

Dumfries Museum and North Lanarkshire Council were among the bodies hosting special events at their respective observatories on Tuesday.

Heavenly spectacular

The phenomenon was similar to a solar eclipse and experts warned people to view the transit by projecting the image onto a screen, or via a solar filter fitted to a telescope, to avoid eye damage.

Bob Kibble, the University of Edinburgh, witnessed the whole event in the capital alongside other interested stargazers.

He said: "We've been watching Venus for the last few months, slowly approaching the Sun, and it's been seen as an evening star, or object.

Venus, IFS
Venus disappears after taking more than six hours to transit the Sun

"But to actually see it move as a disc in front of the Sun, then it was a magical experience for us all."

Venus may once have been Earth-like but now surface temperatures can melt lead.

Venus transits occur approximately four times in 243 years, more precisely in pairs of events separated by about eight years and these pairs are separated by about 120 years.

The reason for these long intervals lies in the fact that the orbits of Venus and the Earth do not lie in the same plane and a transit can only occur if both planets and the Sun are situated exactly on one line.

This has happened only six times in the telescopic age: in 1631, 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874 and 1882. So, the next will be in 2012, but the one after that will be in 2117.


SEE ALSO:
Reworked images reveal hot Venus
13 Jan 04  |  Science/Nature
All aboard the Venus Express?
10 Apr 02  |  Science/Nature
Venus has 'heavy metal mountains'
25 Nov 03  |  Science/Nature


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