If you’re a bit of a astro junkie and you happen to have a solar telescope handy, well polish it up and get it ready – there’s a once-in-a-lifetime show happening on June 5th 2012 that won’t happen again until year 2117!
Venus will transit across the Sun, an event that only happens in pairs every 120 years. This next transit on June 5th 2012 is the second half of this transit’s pair, the first of which happened in June 2004. The transit will be widely visible across all 7 continents, including a little sliver of Antartica, and will happen over 7 hours starting at 3:09pm Pacific Daylight Time (22:09 UT).
DON’T STARE AT THE SUN. This isn’t a solar eclipse like we see with the moon blotting out a good chunk of the sun: Venus’ transit is a small dot that passes across a tiny bit of the sun. Use a protection technique or solar filter: NASA recommends a #14 welder’s glass. Alternatively, contact your local astronomy club, as they are likely to have arranged for a solar telescope to be set up to observe the event.
With the advanced solar telescopes and cameras we have available in 2012, the images we can capture of this rare event should be stunning. If you don’t manage to get a chance to check it out yourself, NASA will definitely be watching and the SDO will be capturing Hubble-quality photos of the planet passing across the Sun.
For more information and tips on observing the event, visit science.nasa.gov.