The Transit of Venus
June 5th is the last chance for anyone alive today to observe Venus crossing the face of the Sun as it happens. The next Transit of Venus will take place in 2117. When Captain James Cook sailed to Tahiti in 1769 his mission was to observe the Transit of Venus in order to calculate the distance from Earth to Venus and ultimately the size of the solar system. NASA Science has a background article on the historical importance of observing a transit: James Cook and the Transit of Venus can be read or downloaded as an audio file. NASA also has an article and video about the 2012 Transit of Venus.
Viewing the 2012 Transit of Venus
There are a number of ways to view the transit, but as with any observation involving the sun, safety should always be a primary concern.
- Space.com has prepared an infographic, Venus Transit of the Sun: A 2012 Observer's Guide, which includes information about where it can be seen and how to safely view it.
- Transitofvenus.org provides video and a list of six safe viewing techniques.
- AstronomyLive features a timing tool that lets your determine when the transit can be seen where you live.
Having been disappointed by the comets Kohoutek and Halley, I’m not going to miss June’s Transit of Venus.