Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Venus and the Sun Dance over Easton

An image of Venus transiting the sun from 2004.
Today, June 5, the transit of Venus, will occur when the planet Venus will be visible as it moves across the face of the sun and partially blocks its light from reaching Earth.

A very rare astronomical event, Venus transits come in pairs that are eight years apart but separated by over a century. The most recent transit of Venus was in 2004. It  is the last chance for anyone alive to see this event, since it won't happen again until 2117.
The complete transit will take about six and a half hours. Locally, it will be visible this afternoon, through sunset, at about 8:21 p.m.
But just like solar eclipses, it's crucial that you choose a safe way to view the transit. Looking directly at it will damage your eye's retina, the light-sensitive area at the back of the eye that provides central vision.
Safe options include:
  • Watch the transit at a planetarium or program by a university astronomy department. Because Venus will look quite tiny against the sun's vast surface, it will be best to watch this amazing event via professional projection on a large screen.
  • Visit NASA's website for a live-streaming broadcast. Additionaly, you can enjoy a live chat with scientists, if you like.
  • Make a simple "pinhole camera" using two sheets of paper. To do this, make a pinhole in the center of one sheet. Then stand with your back to the sun, holding that sheet so that the sun shines through the pinhole onto the second piece of paper. You'll see an image of the transit of Venus projected on the second sheet.
  • View the event through eclipse glasses, if you have them.
The following devices will not protect your eyes: sunglasses, binoculars with filters, neutral density filters, or
exposed photographic or radiographic film.
Enjoy this exciting event today!
Information provided by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, www.aao.org

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