Jun 5, 2012

Happy Transit of Venus Day!

You could see something today that most people don't get to see in their entire lifetime.  Something Edmond Halley (of Halley's Comet fame) predicted and knew he himself would not live to see.

An alert reader notified me yesterday that today, June 5, is when Venus passes directly between me and the sun.  Standing in North America, I should be able to see Venus as a small dot gliding slowly across the face of the sun around 6 pm - sunset.......
  The next transit will be in December of 2117.

Tonight you can watch it live on Slooh.com and preserve your eyesight while doing so.  But of course then it won't feel very realistic, it will feel like a TV show and who needs more of those?

Click here for a transit map and corresponding viewing times.

Click here for Eye Safety Tips on how to properly view the transit.

Which basically involves looking like this:

Or looking like this:

Or following instructions like this:

A method for allowing a large crowd to witness the transit of Venus concurrently is to project a magnified image through a closed-loop device.

What the world??

Now I know many of my readers are wondering
Can I use welding glass to view the sun?

Answer:  "A shade number 14 welder's glass  provides suitable protection. However, this type of glass is becoming less readily available and is now a special order item.  Importantly, polycarbonate welding filters now on the market are not sufficient unless they have gold coating."

As you might expect, lots of people are having Transit of Venus Viewing parties.  In my area, the closest would be at the Ruth Patrick Science Center at USC-Aiken.  And can I just say:  The Ruth Patrick People know how to party.  I even wrote a book about it one time.

Here's a Viewing Party Map where you can party in a planetarium near you.

So.  Today's a big day for us Astronomy types.  Good luck viewing and remember: Always protect your eyesight.  You will need it tomorrow to read another exciting blog post.

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