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Transit of Venus in the June night sky


Andrew Fazekas, astronomer
June 5, 2012 — Skywatchers across the globe are gearing up to be part of history on June 5th as planet Venus crosses the face of the Sun. Night Sky Guy Andrew Fazekas has the details.


Canadians will get a chance to see this rare astronomical event on June 5th
Canadians will get a chance to see this rare astronomical event on June 5th

Skywatchers across the globe are gearing up to be part of history on June 5th as planet Venus crosses the face of the Sun. Observers with clear skies on Tuesday, June 5th in Canada will get a chance to see the first half of the more than 6 hour transit -- with best views in the late afternoon til local sunset.

What many astronomers are calling the event of the century, only six transits of Venus have been seen in recorded history, with the last ones occurring in 1882 and 2004. This will be the last time any person alive today will witness this ultra-rare cosmic event, as the next one will only occur in the year 2117.

Transits occur only when Venus lines up between Earth and the Sun, which occurs in pairs eight years apart,in intervals of a centiry or so. his rarity is due to the orbit of Venus being tilted by about 3 degrees from the plane of the solar system, the planet usually passes above or below the Sun from our line of sight here on Earth.

Skywatchers will have the best luck viewing the transit through a telescope
Skywatchers will have the best luck viewing the transit through a telescope

Venus will appear as a black dot, 1/30th the size of the solar disk, looking like a pea in front of a watermelon. The planet's shadow will be even visible as a black dot to the naked eye using special solar filter glasses, however solar filtered telescopes will offer spectacular close-up views of the planetary silhouette traversing the solar disk. Never look a the sun without protection as it may cause permanent blindness.

Astronomy clubs in many cities across Canada will have free public viewing of the transit.

Visit TheNightSkyGuy.com for a listing of viewing events and local transit times.

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