May 4th, 2012 18:36 EST
Transit of Venus 2012: Where to see it and how
It has been 8 years since we last had an opportunity to see the transit of Venus, where our nearest planetary neighbour passed between the Sun and Earth.
This latest transit will be the last one until December 2117, so unless you are fortunate enough to live well beyond the age of one hundred, this will be your last chance to witness this event.
The best time to view the transit depends on your location. This will begin on June 05 2012, leading up to sunset (for most parts of North America and a small section of South America). The ideal location would be in the Pacific Ocean, where you can see the entire transit.
The final part of the transit can be seen on June 06 2012, around sunrise, and this will be visible to most areas of Europe, Asia, western of Russia and the Middle East.
Sadly, Portugal, southern Spain, western Africa and the south-eastern two thirds of South America will not be able to view any part of the transit.
It is absolutely essential you use the correct equipment when viewing the transit. DO NOT try and look at the Sun without any protection (sunglasses are NOT good enough).
Some of the suggested methods of viewing the transit are:
· Eclipse shades or a welder`s glass (shade number 14)
· Pinhole Projector (an indirect method of looking at the Sun)
· Projecting a magnified view of the Sun (with a reflector telescope or binoculars) onto a white surface
· Sun Funnel (another indirect method of viewing the Sun)
· Solar filter (placed over the large end of your telescope), allowing a magnified view of the event in safety.
· Alternatively, you can view the entire transit from a webcast mounted on top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii: http://sunearthday.nasa.gov/2012/transit/webcast.php
Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty, is anything but. Although it is often called Earth`s sister planet, mainly because of its size, that is where the similarities end. Venus is covered with a layer of clouds of sulfuric acid and its atmosphere consists mainly of carbon dioxide.
As Venus orbits the Sun it can become visible after sunset (the Evening Star ") and before sunrise (the Morning Star "). It is the brightest point-like object in the sky and hard to miss when it is at its brightest. Venus is frequently mistaken for a UFO, which is quite understandable when seeing it for the first time. It is believed that former US President, Jimmy Carter, may have mistaken Venus as a UFO when reporting his "sighting` in 1969.
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Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org