Watching the transit of Venus through telescopes at the local planetarium was impressive, but it was nothing compared to this view from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the most advanced spacecraft ever built to stare at the sun. SDO captured a high-res view of the event through a series of filters.
Observatories the world over will be watching on Tuesday as Venus crosses the face of the sun for the last time in any of our lifetimes. It will be a banner day for astronomers, providing ample opportunities for measuring Venus' characteristics, and for determining some rules that will help in the hunt for exoplanets. But it's also just an amazing thing to behold, and you can watch it, too — as long as you follow some safety precautions.
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.
Look toward the west tonight and you’ll see Jupiter and Venus together, lining up with the crescent moon in a rare and beautiful conjunction. Venus is so bright you can see it during the day today, a few degrees above the sun, just like Abraham Lincoln famously did during his second inauguration. Cloudy skies? No problem — check here for a live feed of this event.
The failure of a Venus probe to reach orbit last week will likely prompt the Japanese space program to take a more cautious tack, according to scientists attending the American Geophysical Union fall meeting this week. The Akatsuki probe — meaning “dawn” in Japanese — is shedding light on the perils of space ambition on a shoestring budget, according to Space.com.
A Japanese probe bound for Venus has missed its orbit and been seized by the sun’s gravitational pull, in a major setback for Japan’s shoestring space program. The probe, called Akatsuki, isn’t necessarily lost however. JAXA officials are still in contact with the probe and may try to insert it into orbit around Venus when it passes near the planet again – in six years.