8 June 2004

The Thrill of Venus Transiting the Sun

Here in Amsterdam, we had the thrill of watching this little dot - the planet Venus - travel across the lower part of the Sun. It began early and ran for six hours.

This was an astronomical and a historic moment that no living human being has ever experienced because the last transit of Venus occurred in 1882. These transits come in clusters of two, spaced out between eight years, with a gap of more than 100 years between each pairing. The second one in this current cluster will take place in 2012. The last clustering of these Solar eclipses by Venus occurred in 1874 and 1882.

In the ancient Mayan culture (Mexico, Central America), Venus and Quetzalcoatl represented transition times in cultural evolution. Mayans were aware of the eclipse and incorporated the transits of Venus into their cosmological and cultural understanding. Venus was associated with the Mesoamerican god, Quetzalcoatl. As the morning star, Venus was a signifier of the boundary between old and new ways of being. Quetzalcoatl and Venus brought in a new day, ushering out old ways of being in exchange for new ways of relating.

Significantly, the second eclipse of this current pairing will take place in 2012, the year anticipated as the end of the Mayan calendar. Given the Quetzalcoatl mythology and his association with Venus, these particular transits of Venus may symbolize a time of transition, when one age is sacrificed for a new one.

Armed with cameras and filters to protect our lenses and our eyes, our little group headed to the Amsterdamse Bos, a lovely wooded area with bike paths, rowing canal, lakes, and even peacocks. We stood like kids in a row, with those weird paper eclipse glasses, heads back and mouths open. I shot some amazing photos with my Canon 10D. When we got back, I downloaded the shots into the Powerbook and jumped for joy. The shots actually show Venus - the dot - against the Sun. Can't wait to crop them and publish them for anyone who wants a peek - Colby's Photographs What a great experience we had...and the photos turned out, too.

Here's a link to the film Venus Transit Sun 8 June 2004

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