The week June 5 - June 12 I travelled to Moscow to observe the Transit of Venus.
Transits of Venus across the disk of the Sun are among the rarest of planetary alignments. Indeed, only six such events have occurred since the invention of the telescope ( 1631, 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874 and 1882 ). The transit of Venus that I went to observe had occurred on 2004 June 08, while the next one will occur on 2012 June 06 and then only in December of 2117 and 2125.
In XVIII century English mathematician and astronomer Edmund Halley first realized that Transits of Venus could be used to measure the Sun's distance, thereby establishing the absolute scale of the solar system from Kepler's third law.
Observing the Transit of 1761, Russian scientist Michael Lomonosov discovered Venus's atmosphere which appeared as a light nimbus around the planet at the moments of contacts.
Transits of Venus are only possible during early December and early June when Venus's orbital nodes pass across the Sun. If Venus reaches inferior conjunction at this time, a transit will occur. Transits show a clear pattern of recurrence at intervals of 8, 121.5, 8 and 105.5 years.
Actually, those ones who have seen this Transit are the only living beings who have ever seen Venus on the background of Sun's disk...
Here is a good link to learn more about the Transits: sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/transit/venus0412.html
The following three groups of images present some sites of Moscow, our "observing squad" formed from me and some university friends of mine, as well as the Transit itself. :-)
We made the shadow in the room using the black plastic, headed the telescope to the Sun, passed the telescope through the hole in the plastic and observed the Transit on the screen placed behind the ocular of telescope.
Here are the shots we have made observing the Transit. We were photographing the image of the Sun on the screen placed behind the ocular of telescope.
The black spot on Sun's face is that brilliant Venus that usually shines before the dawn or after the sunset as the Morning or Evening Star...
The weather conditions were good: some haze interlacing with transparent clouds which couldn't hide the Sun completely, although ( I guess so... ) prevented us from seeing the nimbus of Venus's atmosphere. Nevertheless, everybody ( excluding me ) managed to see Venus on the Sun's disk just with naked eyes ( i.e. just using "eclipse" glasses ).