Video: Venus Sweeps Across the Face of the Sun For the Last Time This Century

Transit Begins

SDO image in extreme ultraviolet.NASA

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.

If you watched any of the multiple webcasts of the transit yesterday, you probably saw suns rendered in a rainbow of colors, from baby blue to deep purple to blistering red. These represent several wavelengths of light, and many don't capture the sun's atmosphere or its prominences, rendering our star a quiet round face. In this video, SDO used filters that capture the solar atmosphere, prominences and all.

SDO is observing in extreme ultraviolet and into the visible light spectrum. The red sun is the 304 angstrom UV, the golden sun is 171 angstrom, magenta is 1700 angstrom, and the familiar-looking orange sun is in visible light. The six-hour transit is rendered at high speed.

Viewed in ultraviolet, Venus appears as some quiet Dantean voyager entering the flames of hell. It will not pass this way again in our lifetimes; the next transit is in 2117. Read more about it here.