What is it?
Due to the alignment of the Sun, Earth and Venus, every so often it appears from our viewpoint that Venus is crossing in front of the Sun. It last happened in 2004, but it won’t happen again until the year 2117.
Venus does not totally eclipse the Sun (like the Moon) but appears as a small dot traveling across the surface, taking a few hours to pass from one side to the other.
When is it?
This transit occurs on the 5th or 6th June, the exact time depending on where you are and in which timezone.
For example, when Venus just starts crossing the Sun, it will be later afternoon/evening on June 5th in North American
In Europe, and East of the Meridian, it will appear to occur on 6th June. In fact, in Europe Sun will rise with the transit already occurring, so look for it at dawn or you will miss it!
Where can I see it?
Where you are on Earth will determine how good a view – if any – you will have of the transit.
What will it look like?
First of all, do NOT stare at the Sun with your naked eye. You won’t see it, and you’ll probably damage your eye. And never, ever look at the Sun with a telescope or binoculars or you’ll instantly blind yourself.
However, if you look at the Sun using a suitable solar filter – either with your eye or through a telescope – you’ll see a small dot slowly (over 6 and a half hours) moving from one side of the Sun to the other. The most interesting times are just when the transit begins, and when it ends, as effects of caused by the atmosphere’s of the Earth and Venus may appear – such as a bright ring of light around Venus.
Another way to observe is to project the image from a telescope or binoculars onto a sheet of white paper. Again, do NOT look directly at the Sun through any instrument, but look at the picture as it is projected. You’ll see the Sun’s disk, maybe some sunspots and the clearly visible black dot of Venus.
The transit takes several hours (where you are located limits how many of these hours you can see) so if it’s cloudy when it starts, don’t forget to give it another go.
Finally: beware bogus Astrologers trying to read superstitious meaning into this event. Astrology is not a science, and has no factual basis in the real world. This transit is purely a completely predictable alignment of planetary orbits, and the only effect this will have on your life is blinding you if you stare at the Sun! Take care, and enjoy the event!
Watch it live here on NASA’s website.