US NAVAL OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY US NAVAL OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Transit of Venus. Historical photograph of Venus (black dot) crossing the face of the Sun on 6th December 1882. Until 8th June 2004, this was the last transit of Venus. Transits occur in pairs separated by eight years, with 121.5 or 104.5 years separating the pairs. The first transit of Venus was observed on 4th December 1639. The first transits of Venus provided an opportunity to measure the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Venus orbits the Sun at a distance of around 104 million kilometres, just over two-thirds of the Earth-Sun distance. It does not transit during every orbit as the orbits of Earth and Venus lie in slightly different planes.
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