Legendary Washington composer [John Philip Sousa IV] likely watched on Dec. 6, 1882, as the planet Venus eclipsed a small part of the sun. This rare alignment -- when the planet's orbit takes it between the Earth and the sun -- is called the "Transit of Venus."
"The interesting thing about band leaders at the time is that their concept of the universe was that there was this hidden balance and all these cosmic things going on," says Sten Odenwald, an astronomer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt. Odenwald is preparing for June 8, when Venus will block out part of the sun for the first time in nearly 122 years. He has also worked with the Virginia Grand Military Band to organize the performance of "Transit of Venus."
Unlike "Stars and Stripes Forever" or "The Washington Post March," Sousa's "Transit of Venus" did not bring Sousa fame, nor did the novel Sousa wrote with the same title.
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