Earlier this week, while most of us were content simply to witness Venus move slowly in front of the massive solar disk, there were several astronomers who were looking for something in particular: the mysterious "arc of Venus."
During the last transit, in 2004, astronomers were surprised by the strange phenomenon, what has been described as a "ring of fire"' around the planet as it moved between the Sun and Earth.
"I was flabbergasted when I first saw it during the 2004 transit," said astronomy professor Jay Pasachoff of Williams College. "A bright, glowing rim appeared around the edge of Venus soon after it began to move into the sun."
After doing some research following the event, astronomers figured out what happened: Venus's atmosphere was refracting sunlight that passed though the layers of air above its clouds, producing the strange glowing arc of light.
Unlike the last Transit of Venus, astronomers were prepared for the mysterious arc this time around, and optimized their recordings of the event to capture the ring of fire for deeper analysis.
What they find, they hope, will help to shed light not only on how Venus was formed, but how Earth was too.
- Ars Animalis: Looking at animals throughout the history of art
- Women's History Month: Remembering 22 women in science
- Purity Month: Looking at 100%
- Instead of This, Try This: Starting the new year with change
- Victory Month: Celebrating positive change through grassroots action
- Of Rice and Men: Cooking the world's most important grain for human nutrition
- 21 Days, 21 Reasons, 21 Recipes, 21 Quotes: Eating plants, loving animals
- Rich Dog, Poor Dog: Considering man's best friend
- Physicists & Priests: Looking at the relationship of science and religion
- Deep Space: Staring at the stars
- Gray Matters: Thinking about thinking
- Flower Power: Stopping to smell the angiosperms
- Animal Cruelty: Looking at the devil within
- Chemical Month: Exploring the vast laboratory of our daily lives
- Africa Month: Visiting the world's second-largest continent
- Reports from 2050: Imagining the future