|A Rare Venus Transit Across The Sun Occurs Today|
June 5, 2012
By WeatherBug Meteorologist, John Bateman
|Today will provide, more than likely, the last chance of your lifetime to watch the planet Venus move across the Sun. What`s a "transit," and how can you see it? |
A transit is just an astronomical term for when a celestial body appears to move across the surface of another celestial body. The second planet from the Sun, Venus, will appear to do just that as it slides from left to right across the Sun`s glowing disc. This transit is a rare, but predictable, phenomenon that occurs in an eight-year pairing with more than century in-between pairings. The last time it happened? June 2004... so this will be it for more than a century.
If you want to catch a glimpse of this astronomical dance and you live in the U.S.; you`re in luck. Every American will have a chance to see it, weather permitting. Places that won`t be so lucky will be much of South America, the western half of Africa, western Spain, and all of Portugal. For more information of the global visibility of the transit and local viewing times, click on this great website that NASA created specifically for this (practically) once-in- a-lifetime event.
Now this next thing is very important... view the transit safely! This can`t be stressed enough. Looking directly at the Sun, even for a brief amount of time, can cause permanent eye damage. The safest way is looking at it through either inexpensive "eclipse shades", telescopes with solar filters, or through a pinhole projector. DO NOT use sunglasses, smoked glass, or tinted film as these don`t offer enough protection.
Lastly, if you do get a chance to see it safely, by all means do it. The next time this will happen will be more than 105 years from now, in December 2117. Happy skywatching!
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Story image: Venus transit of 2004. Courtesy of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory under the GNU Free Documentation License
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