The diversity of the phenomena of nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in the heavens so rich, precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.
SANTA CLARA, CALIF. — I'm huddled outside the Hyatt hotel entrance, shivering with a notepad in hand and half listening to the pop music coming from "Christia and Derick's wedding reception," when Erika Dunning breaks the news. "The International Space Station is passing overhead in four minutes," she says, reading her NASA iPhone app. "Thirty degrees above northwest, 66 degrees max elevation."
Heads turn, and we all gather around the only telescope at this parking lot star party. "This will be a good view," Erika assures her fellow SETIcon attendees. She's 12 years old. A couple minutes later, the hodgepodge group of science fiction fans, aspirational rocket scientists and self-affirmed space nerds all stare skyward, watching as the unmistakably steady and surprisingly bright ISS sails over the hotel. A small cheer rises. "Sweet!" says Nick Orenstein, 29, capturing the moment pretty much perfectly. "I've never seen this before."
Tomorrow, skywatchers the world over will look up to behold a strange sight witnessed just seven times in the past five centuries. The last transit of Venus until 2117 is an occasion for astronomical celebration and historic import — we’ll be watching something the greatest astronomers of any age have traveled the world to see.