High-resolution satellite imaging of the 2004 transit of venus and asymmetries in the cytherean atmosphere

Jay M. Pasachoff, Glenn Schneider, Thomas Widemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This paper presents the only space-borne optical-imaging observations of the 2004 June 8 transit of Venus, the first such transit visible from Earth since AD 1882. The high-resolution, high-cadence satellite images we arranged from NASA's Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) reveal the onset of visibility of Venus's atmosphere and give further information about the black-drop effect, whose causes we previously demonstrated from TRACE observations of a transit of Mercury. The atmosphere is gradually revealed before second contact and after third contact, resulting from the changing depth of atmospheric layers refracting the photospheric surface into the observer's direction. We use Venus Express observations to relate the atmospheric arcs seen during the transit to the atmospheric structure of Venus. Finally, we relate the transit images to current and future exoplanet observations, providing a sort of ground truth showing an analog in our solar system to effects observable only with light curves in other solar systems with the Kepler and CoRoT missions and ground-based exoplanet-transit observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • history and philosophy of astronomy
  • occultations
  • planets and satellites: atmospheres
  • planets and satellites: general
  • planets and satellites: individual (Venus)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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