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Sunday 21 January 2018

All eyes on the sky for Venus in motion

John von Radowitz

The planet held thousands of skywatchers -- plus countless others -- glued to computer screens, spellbound as it passed across the face of the sun.

Spectacular images showing a small black sphere set against the fiery furnace of our home star were webcast by the American and European space agencies, Nasa and Esa.

Many chose to see the phenomenon first hand, by projecting light from small telescopes and binoculars.

Founder of Astronomy Ireland David Moore said the many people who gathered at the vantage point in Skerries, Co Dublin, were disappointed.

"More than 100 people turned up to try and get a glimpse of the transit, but unfortunately we were all disappointed as the clouds blocked our view. All we can do now is wait another 105 years to see it again."

Venus transits occur in repeating pairs. The last was seen in 2004, and the next two will not be until 2117 and 2125. During the transit, Venus was visible as a dark disc covering 1/32nd of the Sun's surface and blocking out about 1pc of its light.

Venus transits in the 18th and 19th century enabled scientists to make the first accurate estimate of the sun's distance from the Earth, around 93 million miles.

Irish Independent

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