Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Video and Photos Capture Transit of Venus From Space

Video and Photos Capture Transit of Venus From Space:


While millions of earthbound viewers tuned in to see the Transit of Venus, some celestial observation points topped them all. The video above captures the historic event from more than 22,000 miles above our planet, taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory from geosynchronous orbit.
The high-above and high-definition view shows our sister planet Venus as it plunges just past the solar limb and crosses the sun’s face. The video is composed of a series of images stitched together to produce a sped-up version of the transit (which, in reality, took nearly seven hours). SDO took images in several different wavelengths, including extreme ultraviolet that shows the sun blazing with fierce magnetic field lines.

Venus looks like it’s going to get burned above a hellish landscape as it sails across the sun’s face — it’s more than 67 million miles away so there’s no actual chance of that. This is the first time that a satellite has taken such high-quality images of a transit of Venus. The SDO data may help scientists learn details of the Venusian atmosphere.

Slightly closer to home, astronaut Don Pettit snapped some incredible photographs (such as the one below) of the transit from the International Space Station, which sits in low-Earth orbit about 240 miles above the planet’s surface. Knowing that his rotation aboard the ISS would overlap with the historic event, Pettit packed special lenses for his camera. His photos represent the first images of a Venus transit taken from the space station.

One more incredible image comes from the Johnson Space Center in Texas, where NASA photographer Mark Sowa captured the sun with beauty mark Venus setting behind the Mercury-Redstone rocket, the U.S.’s first manned launch vehicle (below). More amazing photos of the transit are available in this user-submitted gallery from

Update: One of our readers, Austin Kurtz, has sent a great photo of the transit taken from Chicago. The flight path of O’Hare International Airport was between Kurtz and the sun, leading to an incredible airplane silhouette alongside Venus crossing the sun.

Images: 1) NASA/SDO. 2) NASA/Don Pettit. 3) NASA/Mark Sowa. 4) Austin Kurtz

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