twice in a lifetime
pay attention folks – this is the most important heads-up we can give you for the next 105 years. this June, the planet Venus will be visible as it passes in front of the sun for the second – and last – time in our lives
the first transit of our era took place in 2004, but thanks to the way the planets turn the next one won't take place until 2117. watching a small disc pass in front of the sun may not sound all that thrilling, but seeing this rarest of cosmic alignments unfold gives you a true sense of our place in space. indeed, it was from observations 17th and 18th century transits that we first able to measure the distance between the earth and the sun, and modern observations have helped researchers learn more about how to detect exoplanets orbiting distant stars
Turner Prize-winning artist Wolfgang Tillmans captured seven images of the 2004 transit of Venus, one of which formed the cover of his book Truth Study Center – recently re-released by Taschen as part of a three volume boxset. writing recently in The Guardian, Tillmans called it his favourite shot, and recalled that "observing the 2004 transit through my telescope, which I still have from my astronomy-obsessed teenage days, had no scientific value, but it was moving to see the mechanics of the sky"
observing an entire transit can be tricky, which is why super/collider is organising an expedition to northern Sweden in early June to view the transit of Venus amid the boreal forests south of the Arctic Circle