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Get Ready For The Transit Of Venus Across The Sun

Transit of Venus

For the first and only time in this lifetime, we’re going to have the opportunity to view the transit of Venus across the sun, during June 5th and 6th (depending where in the world you are). You won’t want to miss out, because it’s not happening again until 2117!

The best place to be to view the transit is in lucky eastern Australia, one of the few regions that will be able to see the entire transit, lasting six and a half hours. It will start around 8:16 a.m. on the 6th and last until 2:44 p.m. If you’re in western Australia, Europe, or India, a partial transit will start at sunrise on June 6th, and in North America, a partial transit will begin around 3:09 pm. PT (6:09 pm ET) on June 5.

If you plan to view the transit, the most important thing to remember is do NOT look directly at the sun! It can cause serious permanent damage, and your retinas don’t have pain receptors so you won’t get any warnings until it’s too late.

Instead, you can view the transit through a telescope with a proper, visually safe solar filter, or through a pair of number 14 welder’s glasses. Some observatories will also sell solar glasses for pretty cheap if you live near one.

Solar glasses

For an easier method, simply create a pinhole solar viewer with a pin and some paper. Poke a hole in a piece of paper, hold it up with your back to the sun, and hold another piece of paper underneath it, moving it back and forth until you get a focused image of the sun. If you plan on watching the transit in its entirety, you could cut an opening in the top of a box and watch the sun’s projection through it.

If you have a group of people and would like to create a large projection, you could set up a telescope toward the sun with the eye piece facing a wall or piece of cardboard, then focus the image until it is clear.

If you’re shooting photo or video, experiment with your manual settings to determine what gives you the best turnout. Definitely remember to bring a tripod, because long exposure creates remarkable sky photos and you’ll want to avoid camera shake. If your camera has a UV filter to attach over the lens, bring that as well to minimize distractions.

via CosmosMagazine
Feature image by Jan Herold: Transit of Venus, 8 June, 2004
Bottom image CC licensed by National Park Service: Solar glasses

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