Transit of Venus Wows Astronomers [SLIDESHOW]

By Chelsea Whyte on June 5, 2012 10:57 PM EDT

  • 9 pictures

Photo gallery from the Transit of Venus

For a few hours Tuesday afternoon and evening, the Sun got a beauty spot as Earth's neighboring planet crossed the face of the fiery star.

The Transit of Venus - which happens just twice a century in pairs of events separated by 8 years - was viewed at planetariums, at home by amateur astronomers, through online livestreams and even by NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station. This is the only the seventh observed transit since the invention of the telescope in the 17th century, and it is the last Transit of Venus until 2117.

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The Christian Science Monitor reports throngs of excited viewers at Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, where the University of Hawaii set up telescopes and screens showing webcasts of the event, as well as hundreds of people who attended a viewing party at Los Angele's Griffith Observatory, complete with a marching band playing John Philip Sousa's "Transit of Venus March."

NASA's EDGE program broadcast a live feed online from the top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, reports Wired Science. From that vantage point, the entire transit from one side of the Sun to the other will be visible.

The fantastic spectacle gives average citizens a glimpse at one of Earth's solar system neighbors, and offers scientists a chance to study the Venusian atmosphere by examining the light that pours through it on its path past the Sun.

The view of the transit ends at sunset in the United States, and continues in points west -- Hawaii, Asia, eastern Africa, and Europe -- until just before 10 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Whether or not you saw it with your own eyes, take a look at our photo gallery with pictures from NASA and amateur astronomers and photographers who captured the phenomenon on film.  

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