To watch the 2012 transit of Venus, our local astronomy club set up our gear at Communiversity Park with an unobstructed West view on the eastern shore of the Bay of Green Bay, WI.
A few hundred others also joined us during the hours we were there. Some said they had seen our gathering mentioned on Fox11, while others were just driving by and stopped to see what we were up to.
A transit of Venus occurs when Venus travels between the Sun and the Earth, and we were on just the right plane to watch it happen. Of all the predictable celestial events, transits of Venus are one of the rarest. They occur in pairs only eight years apart, but those pairings only occur more than 100 years apart. Amy and I were lucky enough with good weather to see both the 2004 and 2012 pairings, but even our grandchildren probably won’t see the next pairing on December 2117 and 2125.
Venus transits are historically of great scientific importance as they were used to gain the first realistic estimates of the size of the Solar System. Observations of the 1639 transit, combined with the principle of parallax, provided an estimate of the distance between the Sun and the Earth that was more accurate than any other up to that time. The 2012 transit provided scientists with a number of other research opportunities, particularly in the refinement of techniques to be used in the search for exoplanets.