Venus inspires images of the Roman goddess of love and beauty – immortalised as the Venus de Milo and in Renaissance paintings – but while her nude portraits may be considered too risqué for some, the planet certainly wasn’t.
Among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena on Wednesday morning – the transit of Venus across the Sun – drew a large number of citizens along with Karachi University (KU) students and faculty members at a decades-old astronomical observatory set up on a hummock near the Silver Jubilee gate.
When Venus passes directly between the earth and the sun, it is called a “transit” and it appears as a small disc gliding in front of the sun.
The observatory belongs to the university’s Institute of Space and Planetary Astrophysics (ISPA). ISPA in-charge, Dr Muhammad Jawed Iqbal, said that it is unlikely that anyone alive today will have a chance to observe this astronomical event again.
“After this year’s transit of Venus, the next one is expected in December 2117,” said Dr Iqbal. He explained the transit of Venus, which is similar to a solar eclipse by the moon, occur in pairs eight years apart but then doesn’t occur again for more than a century. The previous pair of transits was observed in December 1874 and December 1882. Despite the fact that the diameter of Venus is more than 3 times that of the moon, Venus appeared on the sun as a dark small spot that drifts slowly from one side of the sun to the other because it is farther away from earth.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2012.