On Tuesday, 5 June 2012, the second and final transit of Venus in the 21st Century took place. This was only the sixth transit since the invention of the telescope, which gives an idea of how rare an occurrence this truly is. The next transit most likely will not be seen by anyone alive today as it occurs in 2117!


To make sure we had a great viewing experience, Cherie and I traveled north an hour to witness the event on the grounds of the Griffith Observatory. We arrived early enough to get a great parking spot, then watched as the huge flood of people flocked in over the intervening hours to partake of the spectacle. We saw cars parked literally a mile or more down the hill throughout the park, which was an excellent indication of just how excited people can get over space and science.

STORY LINK: "New Light at Griffith Observatory"

image courtesy NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

The transit of Venus sequence as seen from Griffith Park, California.

(All times are Pacific Daylight Time.)

15:11 — About five minutes after first contact the tiny disk of Venus can be seen cutting into the Sun from the upper right. Numerous sunspots are also visible toward the center of the solar disc.


The following seven photos are enlargements to show the full ingress sequence of Venus.






15:24 — Venus fully engulfed.

Three photos showing the progress of Venus over a three-and-a-half hour period. The first is at 15:25.



19:42 — Passing in front of a cloud just minutes before sunset. The last 90 minutes of the transit were invisible from our location.

Scenes from the Transit of Venus at Griffith Park.

The crowds were gathering at 1:42 pm.

Same spot at 2:53 pm, less than fifteen minutes from first contact.

Many more people at the approximate mid-point of the transit at 5:54 pm.

Sunset starts becoming apparent, yet the crowds kept coming at 7:20 pm.

Numerous astronomers, amateur and professional, set up their telescopes for the public to watch the event.

The observatory grounds were the perfect spot from which to watch the transit.

Griffith Observatory is a stone's throw from the Hollywood sign.

Onlookers check out a projection box.

There was quite a presence from the news media to cover the Venus transit.

Many people bought solar glasses, then went to relax on the lawn.

Seeing the transit through a Coronado solar scope while her friend waits her turn.

Dr. Ed Krupp snaps some crowd photos from the observatory's western dome.

A happy thumbs up from a woman who just got a glimpse through a telescope.

On the roof of the observatory. Note the solar filters on the telescopes within the eastern dome.

Telescopes and people line the glass wall on the western side of Griffith.

People continued to pour onto the grounds at Griffith even as the last vestiges of the Sun (and the Venus transit) disappeared below the western horizon.

Just 105 years to go until the next transit!