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The Question

(Submitted December 20, 1996)

I have heard that Venus will make a rare transit across the face of the sun. My question would be, is there anyone who could tell me exactly when that will occur? I don't need the exact hour or even day. Month and year would be very helpful.

The Answer

When transits of Venus occur, they occur in pairs separated by 8 years. The last set of transits occurred in December 1874 and December 1882.

The next set of transits will occur on June 8, 2004, starting at approximately 1 AM, EST, and lasting until approximately 6 AM. (That is, on the East Coast it will be just ending at sunrise.) Another transit will occur on June 5, 2012, starting at approximately 5 PM EST and lasting until about midnight. So the East Coast will see the beginning of that one. The precise start times and duration of the transit depend upon one's location on the earth.

I seem to recall that a recent issue of Sky and Telescope magazine had a nice article about the upcoming transits of both Venus and Mercury.

Jim Lochner
Imagine the Universe!

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