Good news: the world did not end on May 20, 2012, when the solar eclipse occurred. (http://lastadventurer.com/last-adventurers-fieldnotes/2012/5/18/partial-solar-eclipse-may-20-2012.html). Even better news: the world did not end today (June 4, 2012) when there was a partial lunar eclipse. (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jun/04/pre-dawn-eclipse-swallows-part-moon/?sciquest). Bad news: the next opportunity for the world to end will be tomorrow, June 5, 2012, when the transit of Venus occurs. I know, right? The word, “eclipse” already sounds sinister, but the word “transit” sounds so much worse. It could mean so many evil, horrible, apocalyptic things. However, in this case what it actually means is that the planet Venus (yes, it is a planet, unlike poor Pluto, or the purported “Planet X” a/k/a “Nibiru”) will pass between us and the sun. This phenomenon will cause Venus to appear as a black dot slowly crossing the face of the sun.
If that wasn’t cool enough, you should know that the next transit of Venus will not occur until 2117. That’s right – I said 2117. Chances are, unless you have mystic powers from Planet X a/k/a Nibiru that I do not know about (and if you do, please e-mail me), you and I will not live to see the next transit of Venus. As an aside, I’ve also heard that there’s a slight chance the planet could be destroyed in December of 2012 due to some sort of calendaring issue. That means that this could potentially be the last transit of Venus ever. All of these factors make this transit of Venus a must-see in my book. If it’s not a must-see in your book, chances are you hate astronomy, or you have a day job. If it is the former, I have no pity for you. If it is the latter, I advise you do what I am going to do: sneak out of work and stare at the sun – safely.
That’s right: to view the transit of Venus, you will have to stare at the sun again. Let me paraphrase what I said several weeks ago, even though it still should be obvious: do not stare at the sun with your naked (uncovered) eyes. Don’t stare at the sun. Ever. If you stared at the sun at the solar eclipse, and are now blind, this is not a problem for you, and I’m sorry to say that even without you watching, the transit of Venus will still occur. For the rest of us: don’t stare at the sun with unprotected eyes. If you are like me, and you still possess your “Eclipse Glasses” (pictured above), they now are “Transit of Venus Glasses”. Find some white out, white out the “Eclipse Glasses”, and write in the correct term. Other than that, they are perfectly good for viewing the transit of Venus. If you do not own any Eclipse/Transit of Venus Glasses, I recommend you check out your local science museum (Here in San Diego, the Reuben H. Fleet Space Science Center: http://www.rhfleet.org/) to see if they are still selling these amazing items for the low low price of ~$2.00. If you can’t find any Eclipse/Transit of Venus Glasses, find some No. 14 Welders Glasses.
If you are on the West Coast of the United States, the transit of Venus will start at approximately 3:06 p.m., Pacific Standard Time, tomorrow, June 5, 2012. If you are not on the West Coast, do the math, and if you can’t do the math, get someone to help you with the math, because math is more fun with friends.
More Information on the Transit Here: http://www.transitofvenus.org/, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/06/120604-transit-of-venus-2012-sun-planet-hubble-space-science-how-when/, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/06/transit-of-venus-2012-how-to-view-the-transit-of-venus.html, http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jun/04/tp-a-must-see-event-for-sky-watchers/
Information on how to photograph the Transit here: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/06/how-to-photograph-the-transit-of-venus.html, http://www.space.com/15987-venus-transit-2012-lunar-eclipse-photography-tips.html
And, historical context of the Transit here: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-0603-wulf-venus-science-20120603,0,3927430.story