A NASA satellite had a front row seat for the transit of Venus on June 5.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured stunning high definition photos and video from its orbital perch 22,000 miles above the earth’s surface. SDO’s sensitive cameras are trained on the sun 24/7 looking for solar weather events that could cause disruption on Earth. The satellite generates over a terabyte of data a day that is downlinked to a specialized ground station in White Sands, New Mexico.

Watch the SDO’s Venus Transit Video:

A Venus transit is similar to a solar eclipse, in that the orbits of the Earth and Venus align in such a way that Venus passes directly between the sun and earth. But due to the distances involved it was not visible to the naked eye and lacked the drama of last month’s “ring of fire” event.

Venus transits are very rare, occurring once every 105 or 121 years according to NASA. The transits occur in pairs that are usually about eight years apart. The last transit occurred in 2004, and the next one will be in 2117.


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