On Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, we will be privy to a once-in-a-lifetime event. Well, twice in a lifetime in my generation’s case. But still, it’s pretty awesome.
Venus will “transit the sun.” This means that Venus, a planet that is about 43 million kilometres away, will cross the face of the sun. What’s the big deal? This is an event that has only been visible six times in recorded history — in 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882 and 2004. Why does it happen so infrequently? Because the cycle of everything being just right for Venus crossing the face of the sun while we can see it is every 8 years, then every 105.5 and then 121.5 years. I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on being around in 105 years.
If you want to see the transit, it is VERY important that you don’t look at the sun without proper protection for your eyes. Most science centres and astronomical associations will be giving out special solar viewing glasses and providing opportunities to view the transit safely with telescopes fitted with special solar filters. If you’re interested in seeing it for yourself — a moment in astronomical history! — try to find a science centre or astronomical group in your city or town that will be providing the opportunity to witness this great event. They will be more than happy to have you take part!
If you’re in Greater Toronto Area, the Ontario Science Centre is providing viewing opportunities (http://www.ontariosciencecentre.ca/calendar/default.asp?showid=1206&ddmmyyyy=23052012). The Dunlap Institute at the University of Toronto is also holding a public event at Varsity Stadium (http://universe.utoronto.ca/special/transit2012). The David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill is also holding a public event (http://theddo.ca/).
Here is a page where you can find Transit of Venus (TOV) events across Canada:
And learn more here: (http://www.transitofvenus.org/)