Transit of Venus 2012 on June 5/6 Visibility: Where To Watch?
The so-called transit of Venus 2012 (or Venus transit) this coming Wednesday, June 6, 2012 (Tuesday, June 5 in some areas) can be seen on Earth and visible from the western Pacific Ocean, northwesternmost North America, northeastern Asia, Japan, the Philippines, eastern Australia, New Zealand, and high Arctic locations including northernmost Scandinavia, Iceland and Greenland.
As explained by NASA late last month, this Venus transit of 2012 will start at 6:04 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, June 5 and will last for around 7 hours. Transits happen when a planet crosses between Earth and the sun. Only Mercury and Venus, which are closer to the sun than Earth, can undergo this unusual alignment.
VISIBILITY OF THE VENUS TRANSIT
In North America, the Caribbean, and northwestern South America, the beginning of the Venus transit will be visible on 5 June until sunset. It continues from sunrise on 6 June where the end of the transit will be visible from South Asia, the Middle East, east Africa and most of Europe. It will not be visible from most of South America or western Africa.
Based on the NASA global map of Transit of Venus 2012 shown below, the entire transit of Venus will be visible from Hawaii, Alaska, New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines, most of Australia, and parts of eastern Asia. Countries in the Western Hemisphere will see the transit on Tuesday, June 5, 2012, while those in the Eastern Hemisphere will see it on Wednesday, June 6, 2012.
Viewers in North America will see Venus start to cross the sun in the late afternoon on Tuesday, but the sun will set with the planet still in transit. Observers in Europe, Africa, and western Australia, meanwhile, will see the sun rise Wednesday morning with Venus already on its face.
The Venue transit is a very rare astronomical phenomenon as it happen in pairs eight years apart. The previous transit happened in June 2004 pairing with this year’s transit. The last pair happened on December 9, 1874 and December 6, 1882, while the next pair is scheduled to happen on December 11, 2117 and on December 8, 2125.
WHAT CAN YOU SEE WHEN YOU WATCH THE VENUS TRANSIT
“People watching this event through some form of safe solar viewer will see the small, dark silhouette of Venus crossing the sun’s face over the course of about six hours. Venus’s diameter will appear only about a 30th the diameter of the sun, so it will be … like a pea in front of a watermelon,” said Jay Pasachoff, an astronomer at Williams College in Massachusetts.
“The effect won’t be visually impressive, but that black dot against the sun is a remarkable thing to see,” he added.
A simulation of the transit of Venus 2012 can be seen here where the first contact with the sun happening on 6:04 pm ET, Venus to be fully inside at 6:21 pm ET, greatest at 9:26 pm ET, Venus leaving the Sun the next day at 12:34 pm ET, and last contact with the Sun at 12:51 pm ET.
HOW TO SAFELY WATCH THE VENUS TRANSIT
NASA is strongly advising the public not to stare directly at the sun while watching this rare phenomenon since it may harm one’s eyes or can cause blindness. Just like viewing the solar eclipse last May 20, 2012, it is advisable to use a #14 welder’s glass, a special “eclipse glasses” or telescopes equipped with solar filters.
Likewise, astronomer Mark Thompson wrote on Discovery News last week that one can also project an image of it through binoculars or a telescope onto a white card.
WHERE TO WATCH THE TRANSIT LIVE STREAM?
NASA Langley is sending a team to the 14,000-foot summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii — site of the world’s largest astronomical observatory. A live stream webcast of the Venus Transit 2012 is available at NASA’s site where the coverage starts at 5:45 pm EDT (11:45 a.m. local time in Hawaii). The webcast will be presented by NASA’s NASA Edge program and serves as the agency’s primary Sun-Earth Day webcast.
The University of Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter in Tucson, Ariz., is expecting a sold out crowd during its special Transit of Venus reception on Tuesday, June 5, 2012, which begins at 2 p.m. MST (4 p.m. EDT, 2000 GMT).
The online Slooh Space Camera will offer a complete view of the transit of Venus 2012 from several different observatories around the world, including telescopes in Australia, japan, New Zealand, Hawaii, Norway, Arizona and New Mexico. The webcast will begin at 3 p.m. PDT (6 p.m. EDT, 2200 GMT).
The Coca-Cola Space Science Center at Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga., will offer a comprehensive webcast of the Venus transit here from observation points on June 5, 2012 where viewers will be able to see images from Alice Springs, Australia, Mongolia’s Gobi Desert and U.S. transit views from Bryce Canyon in Utah and Columbus, Ga.
Israel’s Bareket Observatory will offer live Venus transit images in a webcast here on June 6, 2012, between 5:33 a.m. and 7:56 a.m. Israel local time, which corresponds to 10:33 p.m. EDT June 5 and 12:65 a.m. EDT June 6 (0233 to 0456 GMT).
The Sky Watchers Association of North Bengal (SWAN) in India is also having a live stream telecast which will start at 4 am IST (Indian Time) here.