Astronomers view Venus transit from Vatican observatory

 Forty-five astronomers observed yesterday's transit of Venus (between 7.20am and 1.30pm) from the Vatican Observatory on the roof of the papal palace at Castelgandolfo. The stargazers were part of a 90-strong group of professional and advanced amateur astronomers organized by the American astronomy magazine, Sky and Telescope. The other part of the delegation viewed the transit from a site nearby and will visit the observatory tomorrow, according to a communique from the Vatican Specola, or observatory. An astronomical 'transit' is the passage of one object in the sky in front of another: in this case, Venus passed between Earth and the Sun. Anyone with a small telescope, properly equipped to reduce the Sun's glare, could have viewed the black dot, as Venus appeared, as it moved in front of the Sun. Because this event occurred before sunrise n the western hemisphere, astronomers from Canada and the US came to Europe for the viewing. As proper equipment is necessary to observe the transit and the Sun safely, in preparation for yesterday's event, the Specola received a gift of a telescope especially equipped for solar observation from the Coronado Technology Group, presented by the group's president, David Lund, on May 31 to Fr George Coyne, SJ director of the observatory. The rare transits of Venus happen in pairs, eights years apart, separated by 130 years. Since the invention of the telescope, only five such transits have ever been, the last in 1882. The next will occur in 2012. Source: VIS

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