Transit & Occultation

Demonstrate an understanding of the terms: ... transit and occultation


A transit is the passing of one body in front of another.

From Earth we are able to view transits of Mercury and Venus when these inferior planets pass in front of the Sun.

Transits of Venus are rare. The last transit was in 2004, the first in 120 years. The next is in 2012.



An occultation is like a more dramatic transit where one celestial body obscures and covers another and so blocks its light. This is typically the Moon occulting (hiding) a planet or star or a planet occulting a star.

An eclipse is technically an occultation AND a transit. The Moon blocks the Sun. In a lunar eclipse, the Earth blocks the Sun from the Moon.

From observing occultation scientists can collect accurate data about the position of bodies in the sky.

The satellites of Jupiter are seen to be occulted by the planet when they move behind and they also transit Jupiter's surface when they orbit in front of the planet.


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- Explain the terms transit and occulation
- Discuss if an eclipse of the Sun (by the Moon) is a transit, an occultation or both