Transit of Venus viewed by hundreds at UC Irvine, Griffith Observatory

Venus Transit

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Kimberly Huber and her daughter Clarity, 4, view the transit of Venus on June 5 at Griffith Obervatory.

Venus Transit

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Venus passes in front of the sun as it makes its transit.

Venus Transit

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Maria Cardoza of Temecula gazes at the transit of Venus on June 5 at Griffith Obervatory.

Daniel A. Anderson/UC Irvine Sra

Nicole Johnson, foreground, her daughter Shelby, 9, and others prepare to watch the Transit of Venus by trying on their new eclipse glasses at the University of California, Irvine Observatory Tuesday, June 5, 2012.

Daniel A. Anderson/UC Irvine Sra

A model showing the earth, center, and the surrounding galaxies frames the UC, Irvine Observatory and portable telescopes set up to view the transit of Venus event Tuesday afternoon, June 5, 2012.

Venus Transit

Grant Slater/KPCC

Natasha Lewin rested on the lawn of Griffith Observatory during the transit of Venus.

Venus Transit

Grant Slater/KPCC

A telescope projects Venus passing in front of the sun onto a card.

Venus Transit

Grant Slater/KPCC

Spectators gazed at the sun from the roof of the Griffith Obervatory.

Venus Transit

Grant Slater/KPCC

A visitor to Griffith Observatory takes a cell phone photo of a television projection of the sun.

Venus Transit

Grant Slater/KPCC

The crowd at Griffith Observatory on June 5. Cars stretched down the mountain road for miles.

Venus Transit

Grant Slater/KPCC

The Hollywood sign looms over Griffith Observatory as spectators view the transit of Venus.

Venus Transit

Grant Slater/KPCC

Amankeda of Culver City viewed the transit of Venus through welder's googles.


At L.A.'s Griffith Observatory, at the UC Irvine Observatory and across the Southland, gawkers gathered Tuesday afternoon to witness Venus move like a small black dot across the face of the sun.

Several hundred turned out at UC Irvine, peering though telescopes with solar filters to see something they’ll never see again.

Many bought special “eclipse” glasses from the UCI Observatory for $2 to watch as Venus traveled across the face of the Sun.

The UCI Observatory also projected the image of the sun on several large yellow poster boards for safe viewing.

The Director of the UCI Observatory and an Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy, Tammy Smecker-Hane, said when planets dim the light of the Sun, it is an opportunity for discovery.

“Transits are the way we actually can find planets around other stars,” she said. “Actually, that’s the more modern reason transits are famous. So, when a planet, like Jupiter, goes in front of a Sun-like star, it dims the light of the Sun because Jupiter actually blocks the Sun’s light from getting to you.”

Smecker-Hane said the Kepler Mission, where a satellite orbiting in space, is looking for transits is a way to find new planets.

“Transits of planets across the faces of the stars they orbit are very important to astronomers because it is one of the few ways we can actually find planets in other solar systems,” she said. “The Kepler is monitoring the brightness of roughly 100,000 stars, looking for transits of planets and they’ve found thousands.”

People lined up at several telescopes at the UCI Observatory to see Venus cross the sun.

"It was really cool and I like never saw that before," said a smiling 11-year-old Sofia Rosenblatt of Mission Viejo, after looking through one of the huge telescopes with a solar filter to see Venus as it passed by the Sun.

Many people brought their own telescopes to the Observatory and shared them with visitors, reducing the lines at the UCI telescopes.

After the sunset, many stayed behind to look at Saturn and Mars though the powerful telescopes.

If you missed this rare astronomical event, don't worry; the Transit of Venus will be happening again in 2117.

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