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Everything You Need to Know About the Transit of Venus

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By India Kushner on June 5, 2012

If you don’t see it now, don’t worry. It’ll happen again … in 105 years.

Update: This happened.

Another view here.

On June 5 and 6, Venus will pass directly in front of the sun, an event known as the transit of Venus. It only occurs every 105.5 to 121.5 years, in pairs, eight years apart. The first part of this current pair occurred in 2004. The next transit will occur in 2117.

The event will start at sunset for the East Coast of North America and earlier for other areas of the United States.

Awesome? You bet. But don’t take our word for it. Here’s Hayden Planetarium director Neil deGrasse Tyson’s guide to the event:

Want to know more? NASA ScienceCasts explains the history and astronomy behind the transit here:

So, the most important question: How do I view Venus?

• NASA EDGE will be streaming live coverage of the transit at 5:45 pm EDT from the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

• Find a local astronomy club in your area. (If you’re in New York, viewing spots include Union Square, the High Line, Riverside Park South and 125th Street in Harlem.)

• Indirect observation. You can never look at the sun without eye protection, but there are a few ways you can create some protection, such as with a filtered telescope, solar eclipse glasses, No. 14 welder’s glasses (can be found in welder shops or home-improvement stores), or a pair of binoculars to project the sun’s light onto the sidewalk or a piece of paper.

• Make a pinhole projector, which works the same way. It can be as simple as poking a hole in a paper plate and letting the sun shine through onto a shadowed piece of paper.

Calculate which part of the transit you’ll see, depending on your location . You can also take part of a global experiment to measure the size of the solar system, by downloading the app VenusTransit, which lets people send in their observations.

Two astronomers, Tony Misch and William Sheehan, have created a movie from the 147 negatives taken of the 1882 Venus transit:

What if it rains? Try your luck with a telescope. And you can always follow along with friends from other parts of the country. The Twitter hashtag, according to The New York Times, is #venustransit.

But if you’re out of luck, hey, there’s always next time. You just have to live another century and change. No biggie.

PREVIOUSLY: Neil deGrasse Tyson Presents: Manhattanhenge!

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