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Science Brings Rare Planetary Event To Our Living Rooms

2012/06/07

Source: NASA

For those of you who, like me, didn’t have a pair of eyeball-protecting goggles to watch as the planet Venus crossed the face of the sun this past Tuesday, here’s some stunning HD images released by NASA yesterday. The pictures were collected by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which is, according to NASA, “the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun.” NASA’s website states:

During its five-year mission, it will examine the sun’s atmosphere, magnetic field and also provide a better understanding of the role the sun plays in Earth’s atmospheric chemistry and climate. SDO provides images with resolution 8 times better than high-definition television and returns more than a terabyte of data each day.On June 5 2012, SDO collected images of the rarest predictable solar event–the transit of Venus across the face of the sun.

Tuesday’s astronomical event, which lasted six hours, is among that rarest of planetary alignments (only seven of them have happened since the invention of the telescope).  The last transit of Venus was in 2004 (the transits occur in pairs, with 8 years between them) and the next will not happen until 2117. There are those that say Tuesday’s transit heralds a spiritual and technological revolution here on our blue planet; heaven knows we need one right about now. In the meantime we have these photos:

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The SDO’s amazing accomplishment is due to the dedication and expertise of scientists, of course. Yet arm-chair climate skeptics whose biggest claim to scientific and technological accomplishment is to turn on their computer and use their television’s remote control, feel entitled to weigh in on climate science. Give me a break.

More links:

NASA’s Goddard Flight Centre: SDO ‘s View of Venus Transit 2012

Venus Chasers Of The 18th Century

Venus Makes Rare Trek Across Sun

The Meaning of the Venus Transit in June 2012

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