Look to the Sky Tuesday for the Transit of Venus
The 2012 transit of Venus is expected to be visible in the Southland Tuesday afternoon. Don't miss it; you probably won't be around the next time this celestial event happens.
Tuesday will be the last chance in more than 100 years for Palos and other area residents to see the transit of Venus across the sun.
Observers won't see this again until 2117, The Huffington Post reports. The once-in-a-lifetime event will be visible in North America, assuming you have clear skies on Tuesday afternoon. It will begin at about 5 p.m. Central time.
Venus is the second closest planet to the Sun. When Venus passes between the Sun and Earth, it will appear silhouetted against the glowing orb in similar way the moon blocks out part of the sun during an eclipse. However, Venus will appear as only a black dot against the much-larger Sun.
The transit of Venus occurs in pairs, with the last one happening in 2004 and the next set occurring in 2117 and 2125, according to the The Huffington Post.
How to Watch
Never look directly at the sun with your naked eyes. You can damage your eyes. Likewise, viewing the sun with either binoculars or a telescope can direct the sun's magnified rays directly into your eyeball and cause serious injury―think about what happens to ants under a magnifying glass.
Sunglasses do not provide sufficient protection. If you know someone who works in plumbing or construction, ask them if they have any #14 welder's glass. You can look directly at the sun through this material without risking injury.
If you have a tripod or a partner and a pair of steady hands, you can use binoculars to project an image of the Sun onto a white piece of paper. Remember, don't look through your binoculars at the sun!
If none of these options is feasible, ...
- The Adler Planetarium in Chicago will host a special viewing event since it will be last transit of Venus to occur this century. According to the website, the 2117 transit will not be visible in Chicago.
Though it's not quite the same as viewing the phenomenon in person, there are several places to watch the transit of Venus online:
- The Slooh Space Camera will offer an 8-hour webcast of the transit that includes real-time video feeds from 10 telescopes around the world.
- Astronomers Without Borders will carry a video stream of the transit from the Mount Wilson Observatory in California.
- NASA will offer a live video feed from Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii with expert commentary.
- The San Francisco Exploratorium will host an online video stream from the Mauna Loa Solar Observatory in Hawaii.
Lastly, there's Don Pettit, an astronaut currently aboard the International Space Station. Pettit's not doing a video feed, but he will become the first person to ever photograph a transit of Venus from outer space.