We just had a Transit of Venus recently this June 5, 2012. Is this something you should know and is it a big deal? Well, yes it is! On average, there are 13 transits of Mercury each century. In contrast, transits of Venus occur in pairs with more than a century separating each pair.  The last transit occurred on June 8, 2004, the first of the pair in our time. The next pair will occur in 2117. In centuries before, several transits were observed and they occurred on the dates:

December 9, 1874 and December 6, 1882
June 6, 1761 and June 3-4, 1769
December 7, 1631 and December 7, 1639

The 1639 observation was the first scientific observation of the transit, but the 1761 & 1769 observations caused quite a flurry of scientific activity and excitement. This was a time of new astronomical instruments too. A nice discussion about this event during the time of Thomas Jefferson can be heard here on the Thomas Jefferson Hour:  Transit of Venus with Jefferson

Transit of Venus – 5:45:25 PT June 5, 2012

My friend, Gang Lei, in California captured this amazing photo with an ipad through an astronomical telescope in KLA-Tencor campus. I tried to view the transit myself, but the cloudy conditions did not subside until after sunset. I was pleased to see my friend had captured the experience a coast away. It’s a very nice photograph to capture the event.

As to my original question, whether it matters or not, I suppose that depends on your perspective. For me, yes it definitely matters as a cosmic happening and something rare to see (once or twice in a lifetime). It is a reminder that there is is a continued regularity in the universe hopping centuries in realization. This is something to expand the human mind and visit the cosmos for a time in reflection. I saw the transit in 2004, so I am not so disappointed to miss 2012. It will never occur again in my lifetime, and that is something I feel too. The happenings of the cosmos are not insignificant and they are time passages for us all…

Here’s a retrospective:

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