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A transit of Venus

From the point of view of an observer in the Western Hemisphere of Earth on Tuesday (Eastern Hemisphere, on Wednesday), the silhouetted planet Venus will “inch” its way across the face of the sun, a “transit of Venus,” which will not happen again until the year 2117.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t WAIT that long! 😉

Venus will look like a small black dot sliding across the face of the sun. As with a solar eclipse DO NOT stare directly at the sun. Please listen to experts for ways to watch the celestial phenomenon.

The transit of Venus will take 6 hours and 40 minutes and will be visible from the western Pacific, eastern Asia and eastern Australia.

Skywatchers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the northern part of South America will see the beginning of the show before the sun sets. Europe, western and central Asia, eastern Africa and western Australia will catch the tail end after sunrise. Those who don’t want to leave their homes can follow live webcasts by NASA and various observatories.

The Mercury News offers the following tips for watching the transit of Venus:

Wear special viewing glasses such as solar eclipse glasses. You can buy them online or at your local museum. Alternatively, you can go to a hardware store and get a pair of welder’s glasses, but make sure it’s number 14 or darker. Or make a pinhole projector with cardboard. Do not watch the transit with regular sunglasses.

Peer through telescopes outfitted with special filters at viewing parties hosted by museums, observatories and astronomy clubs. Many will also have experts on hand who could talk about the history and significance of a Venus transit.

Tune in online. NASA, and the Exploratorium in San Francisco are among those that plan live webcasts.

-Bill at

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