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"And the stars are projectors, yeah, projecting our lives down to this planet Earth." - Modest Mouse


6.08.2004

Venus In Transit 



From the Beeb:
The so-called transit of Venus began at about 0620 BST (0520 GMT) with the planet's tiny black disc edging over the bright limb of our star.

The phenomenon continued for about six hours, ending around 1224 BST.

The transits have had huge significance in the past, as they were used by scientists to work out the Sun-Earth distance - and hence to get a proper scale for the Solar System.

Today their value is more in their uniqueness. "It's an extremely rare astronomical event," said Gordon Bromage, a professor of astronomy at UCLAN.

The planet itself is soon to come under close scrutiny from Europe's Venus Express probe. The spacecraft, due to be launched next year, will study the planet's thick atmosphere and look for any volcanic activity that might still persist today.

It is an extraordinary world. Its thick, yellowish clouds contain sulphuric acid. The atmospheric pressure at the surface is equivalent to that at a depth of 900m in the Earth's oceans.

"In a lot of ways, Venus can be considered as Earth's hellish twin because it has evolved in a quite different way to Earth," said Dr Andrew Coates, a mission scientist on Venus Express.

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