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Venus's Rare Sun Crossing May Aid Search for Exoplanets

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Science  11 May 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6082, pp. 660
DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6082.660

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Early next month, skywatchers will get their second—and final—chance this century to observe a rare mini-eclipse in which Venus crosses in front of the sun. As seen from Earth on 5–6 June, the silhouette of Venus, as big as a large sunspot, will adorn the sun's orange disk with a fleeting beauty mark. Venus's passages, or transits, occur in pairs spaced 8 years apart every 105 or 122 years. The next transit isn't until 2117.

  • * Ron Cowen is based in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes about physics, astronomy, and the history of technology.