Thursday, May 31, 2012


Last Transit of Venus this Century

On Tuesday June 5, the planet Venus will go in front of the Sun.  Although not as dramatic as a solar eclipse, a Transit of Venus is so rare that it has only been noted six times in human history!  The Earth, Venus, and Sun have lined up for astronomers in 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1874, and 2004.  And the next one will be 2117 (do you get the pattern?). 

In 2004 I traveled to New Hampshire to see it as the Sun rose.  I was met by fog that blocked out the Sun!  I almost panicked (okay, I did panic), but luckily the fog parted enough for me to view the very end.  That's the picture I took through a telescope with a solar filter.  It's like a little black spot on the Sun.  Now I want another shot at it...

The timetable for June 5th is this:
       Transit begins at 6:04pm EDT
           It will slowly march across the disc of the Sun until...
                   Check your local sunset for exact times and make sure to have a clear view to the north-western horizon.

It's never safe to look at the Sun so always use proper solar filters.  For six cool, safe ways to view the event, see:

If it's cloudy where you are on June 5, you can watch the Transit of Venus on a live webcast at:  

Everyone in the United States and most of Canada will be able to see the event.  I'm heading to Arizona in the hopes of making use of the clear, desert skies (with no fog).  Hopefully I'll have some great pictures to share after June 5 because I'm not gonna make it until 2117.

Happy Transit of Venus!