2012 Transit of Venus: Astronomical event of a lifetime

An incredibly rare astronomical event, known as the Transit of Venus, occurs later this afternoon as Venus passes over the evening sun (at least here

The Transit of Venus across the sun involves the gaseous planet passing between our orbit and that of the suns. The event won't occur again for 105 years. (NRAO)

on the East Coast of the United States). The event last occurred in 2004 and, get this, won’t occur again until 2114. This is, literally, the chance of a lifetime for astronomers and space enthusiasts alike to witness an incredible event. The event occurs as Venus, a gas planet lying between the Earth and the Sun’s orbit, passes directly over the sun. With the right tools, anybody on Earth can observe it as a small black dot, progressing over the suns light. If you plan on viewing the event, however, experts suggest that you wear solar eyeglasses or dark, polarized lenses for safety and better viewing. It will  be nearly impossible to view the event by looking directly at the sun with the naked eye — and you can actually hurt your eyes fairly severely by doing so.

The forecast, however, is less enthusiastic about the once in a lifetime event. Forecast models are indicating the potential for clouds across almost the entire area (70% chance of clouds across some areas, to as low as 40% across others). Such a forecast, more often than not, means the event won’t be viewable. That being said, if you happen to be lucky enough to grab some clear skies and sun this evening, the transit occurs at 6:04pm EST. So get your specialized glasses ready!

Looking to view the event in NYC? Various sources report that astronomy specialists and enthusiast groups have set up viewing sites around New York City, including areas near Riverside Park, Union Square, the High line, and 125 Street in Harlem.  Stay tuned to our Twitter account for more updates throughout the day on the cloud situation.

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