On Monday June 6th the inner planet Venus will have moved into superior conjunction – on the opposite side of the Sun from the Earth. Venus will reappear on the east side of the Sun later next month and start becoming visible in the evening skies over the western horizon.
A few hours after Venus is officially at superior conjunction (21 UT) Venus will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north relative to the ecliptic. This is known as an ascending node, one of two intersections Venus orbital path has with the ecliptic. The ecliptic is actually the Earth’s orbit and Venus has an orbit that is inclined a little more than 3o from the ecliptic. So there are two node intersections, the ascending and descending nodes.
Had this node crossing been at inferior conjunction then we would have had a Venus Transit of the Sun. Those do not happen that often. The last two Venus Transits were in 2006 and 2012. Transits occur in a pattern that has 2 transits 8 years apart that repeats itself every 105 years and then 121 years. The next pair will not be until 2117 and 2125. I was fortunate to be able to view the 2012 Venus Transit.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.