John Philip Sousa composed a march for military band titled “Transit of Venus” in 1883 to celebrate a rare astronomical phenomena that occurred on December 6, 1882 — Venus Venus passing directly between the Sun and Earth. You can listen to it here.
Transits of Venus occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years. Pairs of transits eight years apart are separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. The first scientific observation of this rare event was in 1639, though it had been predicted by Johannes Kepler in 1627.
The last transit of Venus was on June 8, 2004, the next will be on June 6, 2012. There will not be another for 105.5 years, in December 2117.
The planet’s bone-dry surface is hot enough to melt lead. Venus’ atmosphere, 90 times heavier than Earth’s, is almost pure carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps solar heat. The thick blanketing clouds don’t help; they trap heat, too,and they’re made of sulfuric acid. Robot-spaceships sent to Venus have landed, but they never last long. Russia’s Venera 13 lander operated for 127 minutes — the all-time record — before being overwhelmed by the acid, the heat, and the crushing pressure of Venus’ atmosphere.