Lunar Venus Transit 2012 LIVE: Where to Watch, Weather Forecasts, What is the Venus Transit? [+ Video]
A transit of Venus will begin to be visible in the Western Hemisphere on Tuesday evening, and will be visible for people in the Eastern Hemisphere on Wednesday at sunrise.
At 6:04 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, the planet Venus will begin to cross paths between the sun and the Earth.
By 6:22 p.m., our sister planet will appear as a black dot moving across the face of the Sun for six hours. The further west you live in the states, the longer you’ll be able to view the transit.
As long as clouds don’t ruin the view, most of the world will be able to watch the celestial event. The entire transit will be visible for people in the Western Pacific Ocean, northwest North America, northeastern Asia, the Philippines, Oceania, and high Arctic locations such as Scandinavia, Iceland, and Greenland. But the transit will never be visible for those in east South America, West Africa, Portugal, and Spain.
Transits of Venus occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, in which a pair of two transits is separated by eight years and each pair itself is separated from others by alternating periods of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. Although we last saw one in 2004, this year’s transit will be the last transit of the century. The next one will be in 2117, so it’s your last chance to watch our sister planet dance across the largest stage in our Solar System.
Follow NASA's live coverage:
Tuesday 10:17 PM Weird facts about Venus:
1) Twins? Venus is Earth's sibling in terms of similar size, mass, and orbits.
2) Hellish. But they are not actually very similar. Venus' atmosphere is 96.5% carbon dioxide, which makes temperatures up to 461 degrees Celsius. Sulfuric dioxide creates clouds that rain sulfiric acid that would burn your skin.
3) Russians can take it, though. The Soviet Union successfully got spacecrafts to land on the planet's surface during the space race.
4) Slow and backward. While the Earth takes 24 hours to complete 1 day, Venus takes 243 Earth days to complete one of its days. This is because Venus rotates very slowly. Plus, it rotates backwards compared to the other planets. Weird.
5) No moons. Earth, Mars, and Pluto have moons, but Venus does not.
Tuesday 9:28 PM What do astrologists have to say about the Venus transit? Astrology.com says the event, along with the lunar eclipse, represents a rise in love for women and for the love that women express for others.
Tuesday 9:11 PM While the sun has set in the East Coast, the midwest can still watch the transit. Lucky West Coasters can see most of it, with Hawaii being able to see the whole thing.
Tuesday 8:45 PM RHESSI (Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager) will use the Venus transit to improve measurements of the Sun's diameter.
Tuesday 8:14 PM Washington Post blogger Dominic Basulto says transits of Venus represent modern notions of innovation as collaborative and sharing-based rather than "pure science and mathematics," which he says characterized more traditional descriptions of innovation. Whereas scientists from the 18th century were mostly alpha males who observed the celestial event and went home to calculate the findings, scientists today include women and use social media to connect with everyone in the world.
Tuesday 7:51 PM In 1883, the composer John Phillip Sousa wrote a piece called "Transit of Venus." It's a joyful march for the piano. Then in 1920, he wrote a novel called Transit of Venus, which is about a group of misogynists who voyage to capture a photo of the transit of Venus. Known as the Alimony Club, these men have a disdain for women until they find out the ship's captain's niece is on board. The New York Public Library has put the entire novel online.
Tuesday 7:36 PM Venus' disk begins to pass over the left edge of the sun's disk a little after 6 p.m. ET, and makes a stately crossing that lasts until about 12:50 a.m. ET. (Of course, the sun will have set on the East Coast by then.) Some part of the transit will be visible from most locations on Earth — though you're out of luck if you're in eastern South America, western Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, Antarctica or the middle of the Atlantic.
7:07 PM: Check out Instagram photos of the Venus transit. Planets can be hipster.
Tuesday 7:01 PM: Want to see an Earth transit? Just hop over to Mars. Earth transits occur every 26, 79, and 100 years. The next one will be in 2084, so hopefully we'll be populating the red planet by then.
Tuesday 6:57 PM: Looks like Three Days Grace knows how to use social media. They announced today that their new album, due Oct. 2, will be called "Transit of Venus."
Tuesday 6:51 PM: Hungry for dinner? If you want to stay Venus-themed, eat milk, fish, sushi, chocolate, chicken salad, or peaches. As Venus is the only planet named after a female figure, these "feminine" foods will suit the occasion.
But don't eat Venus Hottentot Cake. In the 19th-century, an African woman named Sarah Baartman "Hottentot Venus" was exhibited at a London "freak show." As part of World Art Day in April, the "anti-racist" Swedish Minister of Culture was photographed eating a cake of an African woman in minstrel makeup. The art installation intended to highlight the issues of genital mutilation, but ended up being offensive.
Tuesday 6:32 PM: If you live in the UK, you can watch this BBC special episode of Horizon on the Venus transit.
Tuesday 6:18 PM: Another live-stream on Google Hangout. Virtual star party team through Universe Today.
Tuesday 6:11 PM: Transit in motion. Unlike a solar eclipse, says astrophysicist Neil deGrass Tyson, a Venus transit is not "a spectacle." It's the rarity that's special, he explains.
We will not be visiting Venus anytime soon, he says, as its atmosphere is much more dangerous than planets such as Mars. The Russians successfuly sent probes there, but we haven't yet. So keep watching affectionately from afar.
Tuesday 5:04 PM: If you're looking up at clouds or live in east South America, west Africa, Portugal, or Spain, you can watch the live-stream of the Venus transit:
-NASA TV in Hawaii; begins at 5:45 ET.
-Kwasan Observatory in Kyoto, Japan.
-Sky Watchers Association in Northern Bengal, India.
-Coca-Cola Space Science Center in Georgia, U.S. will show images from Columbus, Ga., as well as from Utah, Mongolia, and Australia.
See more online live-streams here.
Tuesday 3:51 PM: Want to photograph the Venus transit so you never forget it? Here are a few ways:
1) If you have solar eclipse glasses, simply put the dark lens filter in front of the camera or smartphone camera lens.
2) If you have a telescope, place the camera over the viewing area.
3) If you're really ambitious, you can use binoculars to reflect the sun’s light onto the sidewalk or a sheet of paper, and then take a photo of the projected image of Venus’ dot moving across the sun.
4) If you have an SLR, camera stores sell special lenses meant for photos of solar eclipses.
Tuesday 2:40 PM: Venus has been an influential name throughout cultural history, especially in representations of women. From Botticelli's Birth of Venus to tennis star Venus Williams, the planet's namesake has come to stand in for femininity in all its forms.
See here for the full list.
Tuesday 2:13 PM: The Venus transit has made major advances in astronomy throughout the history of science.
-In the Enlightenment, scientists used 1760's Venus transits to measure the distance between the Earth and the sun. Without the first estimate of this distance, called the "astronomical unit," astronomers could not measure accurately the size of the Solar System or gauge how far stars were. In short, Venus transits have allowed astronomers to measure distances in outer space.
-To measure the sun-Earth distance, the scientist who identified Halley's Comet encouraged others to observe these 1760's transits from multiple points around the world. This expeditionary spirit coincided with and fueled the Age of Discovery.
-From the 2004 and 2012 transits, scientists hope to find information about planets outside the Solar System based on light dimming effects of the transit.
Tuesday 1:04 PM: Uh-oh. Weather forecasts of clouds, if not storms, threaten to rob the last-in-our-lifetime opportunity from some U.S. citizens.
Best viewing, with clear skies:
-Southern California and the Southwest U.S.
-The western Great Lakes
Cities: Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Kansas City.
Worst viewing, with cloudy skies:
-Coastal New England
Cities: Seattle, Portland (Or.), Boise, Atlanta, Charleston, Miami, Portland (Me), Boston and New York City.
See here for more information about the specific weather conditions causing the clouds.
As it turns out, the rare event (it only has been observed six times in recorded history) in which Venus will travel across the sun, is now viable and recordable by using the appVenusTransit from Astronomers Without Borders. Did I mention the app is free? And hurry up, because the next time you’ll have the chance to use it will be in 2117!
The cool thing about the application is that it will allow astronomy aficionados from around the world to witness this rare event without having to leave their homes…or their phones. In addition, users will be contributing with their own observations to a “collective experiment to measure the sun's distance,” social astronomy anyone?
VenusTransit has a built-in timer to calculate how long Venus takes to cross the Sun. It also has simulation and visibility sections to tell users when the transit will begin based on their GPS coordinates (so don’t forget to enable your “location services,” all of you iPhoners out there).
Venus' ramble between the sun and the Earth will be viewable starting at sunset on the East Coast of North America and earlier for other parts of the U.S. According to NASA Science News, observers on all seven continents will be in a position to see it.
But only those who downloaded and used VenusTransit will be able to say they experienced the first app-broadcasted Transit of Venus ever.
Tuesday 11:00 AM: The brightness of the sun can blind you. So how can you watch the Venus transit?
1) Get a pair of solar eclipse glasses. First, try finding them at the local planetarium, science museum, or home improvement store (No.14 welder's glass). If not, find a bulk supplier. See more here.
2) Telescope. Some space centers and planetariums will be allowing free access to their telescopes for viewing.
Tuesday 9:42 AM: Check out gorgeous photos of Venus by National Geographic.
Tuesday 8:51 AM: Scientists will be watching the transit to draw information about exoplanets, planets outside of the Solar System. The dips in a star’s brightness, caused by a known planet transiting a known star, the diameter of Venus during the transit, and the atmosphere of the planet can give clues to astronomers studying exoplanets.
Monday 6:44 PM: Be on the watch for four major points — called “contacts” — of the celestial movement:
Viewing times in major U.S. cities, based on each area’s time zone:
Albany, NY - Ingress exterior at 6:03 pm [visible]; ingress interior at 6:21 pm [visible]; transit center at 9:27 pm [not visible]; egress interior at 12:33 am [not visible]; egress exterior at 12:51 am [not visible].
The phenomenon takes place when Venus aligns directly between the Sun and Earth. During the 6-hour transit on June 5th-6th, the planet will appear as a small black disk moving across the face of the sun.
Transits of Venus are some of the rarest celestial phenomena that can be predicted. They occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, in which a pair of two transits is separated by eight years and each pair itself is separated from others by longer periods of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. Although we last saw one in 2004, this year’s transit will be the last transit of the century. The next one will be in 2117.
Scientists will be sitting front-row at the celestial performance. Venus transits historically helped astronomers gain the first realistic estimates of the size of the Solar System and distances between the Earth and the Sun. This year’s transit will provide scientists with many research opportunities, such as refinement of techniques to search for planets outside of the Solar System.
To watch the planet crawl across the star, use a telescope, binoculars, pinhole, or reflected pinhole. These technologies project images of the Sun onto a screen so you won’t damage your eyes.
People in the Western Pacific Ocean, northwest North America, northeastern Asia, Japan, the Philippines, eastern Australia, New Zealand, and high Arctic locations such as Scandinavia, Iceland, and Greenland will be able to see the entire transit this year. In the rest of North America, the Caribbean, and northwestern South America, observers will be able to see the beginning of the transit on June 5th until sunset. In South Asia, the Middle East, east Africa, and most of Europe, people will be able to observe the end of the transit from sunrise on June 6th. Most of South America and West Africa will not be able to view the transit.
It’s the last time we’ll be able to watch our sister planet dance across the largest stage in our Solar System. Let’s give her our time of night.