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Venus Starts Its Rare Sun Transit

from BBC News Online

Planet Venus is putting on a show for skywatchers, moving across the face of the Sun as viewed from Earth. The transit is a very rare astronomical event that will not be seen again for another 105 years. Observers in North and Central America, and the northern-most parts of South America saw the transit begin just before local sunset.

The far northwest of America, the Arctic, the western Pacific, and east Asia will witness the entire passage. The UK and Europe, the Middle East, and eastern African must wait for local sunrise to see the closing stages of the transit.

Some of the best early pictures of the event were provided by the US space agency's (NASA) Solar Dynamics Observatory, which studies the Sun from a position 36,000km above the Earth. Scientists are observing the transit to test ideas that will help them probe Earth-like planets elsewhere in the galaxy, and to learn more about Venus itself and its complex atmosphere.

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