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Venus transit, June 05, 2012, credit NASA

Venus transit, June 05, 2012, credit NASA

It is today, on June 5, 2012. It starts at sunset on East Coast (actually at 2 PM). Venus will pass across the upper portion of the sun. The next time it will occur in 2117. I am afraid I would be too old to enjoy it. The last time it occurred on June 8, 2004 and that time Venus passed across the lower part of the Sun. This time it goes across the upper portion of the Sun.

Venus transit on June 08, 2005, credit SPL

Venus transit on June 08, 2004, credit SPL

See pictures from the last event here.

And I am unprepared. I gave away the last pair of my sun viewing glasses and my Welding filters are all gone.
Transit visibility map (credit NASA) is here.

June 5, 2012, Venus transit observation times

June 5, 2012, Venus transit observation times. Figure credit Daily Mail

What to do if you are unprepared for this event

  • Read this page on how to safely observe the Sun.
  • If you are not equipped, PLEASE do not take any chances! Review this page.
  • You can easily destroy your equipment or even your eyes. I will content myself with watching the live NASA stream.
  • If you have a binoculars or a small telescope, and that is all what you have, you can project an image of the Sun through a telescope or binoculars onto a white screen – paper plates, walls and sidewalks – whatever white surface you have. More guidance is provided on this page, read it carefully – Do it yourself.
  • You can watch NASA web cast from Mauna Kea, Hawaii. This webcast event will run through the whole transit, beginning 5:45pm EST. You can view the webcast by finding Hawaii on the Google map on the page.

History of observations

The Venus transit was observed only seven times in the telescopic age: in 1631, 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882 and 2004. The first time it was recorded in 1639 by a young English astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks in Much Hoole, who lived in a tiny village in the north of England. He watched it using his small telescope.

There are 2 good articles describing the history of observations of Venus transits

  1. Venus to put on Sun spectacular, by Jonathan Amos on BBC.
  2. Pimple on the sun that spells a spot of bother by Daily Mail.