It’s a twice in a lifetime moment: the transit of Venus across the Sun
On 6 June, an event that takes place only four times every two centuries will enthral the world’s astronomers, as it has ever since the 1600s – but now it can provide priceless data in the hunt for habitable planets in deep space
In the image:
1. The tiny black disc of Venus edges across the Sun during the last transit, in 2004. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod for the Observer
As seen from the Earth, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks the Sun. This can happen only during a new moon, when the Sun and the Moon are in conjunction as seen from Earth. In a total eclipse, the disk of the Sun is fully obscured by the Moon. In partial and annular eclipses only part of the Sun is obscured.
Ready to Go
Amelia Earhart, 39, stands next to a Lockheed Electra 10E, before her last flight in 1937 from Oakland, Calif., bound for Honolulu on the first leg of her record-setting attempt to circumnavigate the world westward along the Equator.
This photo was taken shortly after the airplane was delivered in 1936.
Various atoms and molecules as depicted in John Dalton’s A New System of Chemical Philosophy (1808).
March 18, 1987: Woodstock for Physicists
1987: Thousands of physicists crowd a ballroom at the New York Hilton for a hastily arranged marathon session on high-temperature superconductivity. The event generates so much excitement that it is later referred to as the “Woodstock of Physics.”
March 9, 1862: Ironclads
1862: Civil War ironclads stage the first sea battle in naval history between armor-plated vessels.
The battle took place at Hampton Roads, Virginia, where a day earlier theCSS Virginia(known popularly as theMerrimack, her name when she had been a frigate in the pre-war U.S. fleet) savaged the Union blockade squadron anchored there. The Union guns proved ineffective against the armor plating protecting the Confederate marauder, allowing the ironclad to move in close and even ram and sink a ship. TheVirginiawas returning at daybreak to finish off the Union fleet when the ungainly lookingUSS Monitorshowed up to engage it.
TheVirginiawas slow, difficult to maneuver and prone to engine trouble, but it outgunned theMonitor. During the battle the ships collided several times and were struck repeatedly by cannon fire, often at point-blank range, but their protective plating prevented any severe damage. They slugged it out for several inconclusive hours until theVirginiafinally drew away.
The battle ended in a draw and the Union blockade of the James River continued. The significance of the engagement, however, was lost on no one. The nature of naval warfare had been changed overnight, and forever. As one historian observed, the moment theMonitorengaged theVirginiain battle, every navy on earth became obsolete.
(Source: Battle Cry of Freedom, James M. McPherson)
This article first appeared on Wired.com March 9, 2007.
Space Station Flying by the Moon
The International Space Station can be seen as a small object in upper left of this image of the moon in the early evening Jan. 4 in the skies over the Houston area flying at an altitude of 390.8 kilometers (242.8 miles). The space station can occasionally be seen in the night sky with the naked eye and a pair of field binoculars.
Image credit: NASA/Lauren Harnett
Statue of Liberty
Liberty Island, New York
New York City skyline and Statue of Liberty in black and whit
Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone patent drawing
March 7, 1876.
Former NASA astronaut Joseph Tanner is photographed during a space walk outside the space shuttle Discovery in low Earth orbit during the second servicing mission of the Hubble Space Telescope. The sun is visible behind him. Even when the sun is shining, the sky appears dark in low Earth orbit, because there isn’t enough atmosphere to diffuse sunlight.