shows live the major celestial events in Norway 2011-2012. The last event was the Transit of Venus, June 6, 2012.

The transit of Venus June 6, 2012

On June 6, 2012 a really important and historic event took place: The last transit of Venus that anyone living on this planet today can expect to watch. Due its rarity and its importance for science in history this transit is one of the most important celestial events of the 21. century. In Europe the whole transit could be observed to the north of the Polar circle, for instance in Norway: Venus transited the midnight Sun! More information... Less information...

Why are the transits of Venus so rare? The orbit of Venus is inclined 3,4 degrees relative to the orbit of the Earth. Venus usually passes below or above the Sun when passing between the Earth and the Sun. A transit is only possible when Venus is situated close to the point of interception with the orbit of the Earth.

The blackest object we have observed: During the transit Venus waw blackest object that we have ever seen! The night side of Venus is not emitting visible light. The contrast to the very bright solar disk was extreme!

Brief facts about Venus

  • Diameter: 12 104 kilometers (94,9 % of Earth)
  • Distance from the Sun: 108.2 million km
  • Smallest distance from the Earth: Less than 40 million km
  • Eccentricity of orbit: 0.0068 (orbit of Earth: 0.017)
  • Inclination: 3.39 degrees
  • Average surface temperature: 464 degrees Celsius
  • Atmosphere: Very dense, pressure of 90 atmospheres at surface
  • Chemical composition of atmosphere: 96.5% CO2, 3.5% N2, 0.003% water vapour
  • Day length: 243.01 days (retrograd rotation)
  • Inclination of rotation axis relative to orbit: 177.4 degrees
  • Length of year: 224.70 days
  • Age of surface: About 800 million years
  • Mean density: 5.243 times density of water (density of the Earth is 5.515)
  • Mass: 4,869 * 1024 kgs = 0,815 times mass of the Earth
  • Average velocity in orbit: 35 km/s = 126 000 km/h
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Super-sized and spectacular lunar eclipse December 10, 2011

This total lunar eclipse was visible from Norway. The rather unusual circumstances created a magnificent event, but bad weather was a problem. This was the third total lunar eclipse to take place in Norway in less than one year. The next one will not be until 2015. More information... Less information...

In the early afternoon the Moon started to enter the shadow cast by our planet. Even during the total phase some sunlight reached the Moon. The Moon therefore did not disappear from sight, but had a beautiful, red color. This is due to sunlight that passes through the atmosphere on the Earth. This happens where the Sun is setting or rising. The color of both the atmosphere and the eclipsed Moon reflects this.

If we had been situated on the Moon during the eclipse we would experience a total solar eclipse. The completely black night side of the Earth would be surrounded by a thin, red ring – the atmosphere.

The eclipse was total from 15.06 – 15.57 MET / local Norwegian time. For about one hour before and after the totality spectacular partial phases was visible when the Moon moves into and out of the shadow.


Underneath you can watch images from our webcast december 10.

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Asteroid passed unusually close to Earth November 10, 2011

The asteroid 2005 YU55 passed unusually close to the Earth on November 9. It was then hardly observable from Norway but the following night we organized a webcast of the asteroid. The asteroid was measured to be 310 meters across and passed only 0.85 lunar distances (324 900 kilometers) from the Earth. This was the first time ever that we knew in advance that such a large object should come this close. Images and more information... Less information...

It was possible to witness the close passage with amateur telescopes. 2005 Yu55 was closest at 00.28 MET on November 9, 2011. Its closes position to the Moon was 239 000 kilometers at 08.13 MET the same day.

It is not that rare that this asteroid comes close to the Earth, but it was at least 200 years since the last time it came this close. The velocity relative to us was 49 300 km/h.

The last time we know that such a large asteroid has come this close was in 1976. The next visit of this kind til take place in 2029 when 2001 WN5 is 0,6 lunar distances from Earth and in 2029 Apophis will be less than 30 000 kilometers from the surface of the Earth!


Underneath you can watch archived images from our live webcast.

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Large total lunar eclipse June 15, 2011

Only two weeks after the eclipse of the midnight Sun a very long lasting total lunar eclipse occured. The totality lasted for 1 hour 40 minutes, the largest one in 11 years. From Norway only the southern half of the country could enjoy the impressive view. Images and more information... Less information...

Total lunar eclipses occurs when the Moon is crossing the shadow cast by the Earth. Some light from the Sun penetrates the atmosphere of the Earth and is scattered onto the Moon giving it the (usually) red color. From the surface of the Moon we would have experienced a total solar eclipse.


Underneath you can watch archived images from our live webcast.

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The midnight sun eclipse in northern part of Norway June 1, 2011

The eclipse took place around midnight local time (daylight saving time) and could be viewed from the Norwegian counties of Møre og Romsdal, Trøndelag, Nordland, Troms, Finnmark as well as Spitsbergen. Northern Norway and Spitsbergen will enjoy the best view. This was the first midnight Sun eclipse in Norway since 2000 and the largest one since 1985. Scandinavians must wait until 2084 to have a larger eclipse of the midnight Sun. Images and more information... Less information...

It might sound like a contradiction to have a solar eclipse in the middle of the night. But this was what happened in northern Norway, Sweden and Finland on June 1. Almost 60 % of the Sun was hidden by the Moon around midnight local time. A midnight Sun eclipse can only occur close to the poles and only during summer when the Sun never sets.

From time to time partial solar eclipses occur around the globe. When views through eclipse shades these eclipses can be quite beautiful. During large solar eclipses it becomes darker, and the light silvery. This time the beautiful reddish and yellow colors in the sky caused by the midnight Sun mixed with the effects of a 60 % (diameter) solar eclipse.

In Norway the eclipse began at 22:37 local time (20:37 UT) and ended at 00:22 (22:22 UT). Maximum eclipse was reached around 23:30 local time (21:30 UT).

The eclipse could be viewed from the Norwegian counties of Møre og Romsdal, Trøndelag, Nordland, Troms, Finnmark as well as Spitsbergen. Northern Norway and Spitsbergen enjoyed the best view.

Since the rotational axis of the Earth is tilted by 23.5 degrees areas located north of 67.5 degrees latitude (the Arctic Circle) experience a period each summer when the Sun does not set – it is a midnight Sun.


Underneath you can watch archived images from our live webcast.

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Department of Physics, The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, University of Oslo

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The project The earth and the sun focusing on the spectacular celestial events 2010–2015.

This website, other communication and national initiatives linked to celestial events is made possible by funding from DnB NOR Savings Bank Foundation.

Astronomer Knut Jørgen Røed Ødegaard was head of the project.