Thursday, 31 May 2012

A lesser "eclipse" next week

As is well known, on 14 November this year Cairns will be experiencing a total eclipse of the Sun, and there should be quite a few people in town and hoping for clear morning skies to watch as the Moon passes in front of the Sun. Less well known is that at 8am on 6 June we also have an eclipse of sorts, just an extreme case of an annular eclipse - and it's not just us, but most of the world.

It's not the Moon doing a transit across the Sun's face this time, but the planet Venus (1/30th the apparent diameter of the Sun). It will start its transit at 8am and finish at 3pm (both roughly and Australian Eastern time), and the whole transit can be seen anywhere in eastern Australia. There won't be any noticable darkening, almost nobody will know it's happening, and if you look at the Sun at the time with the naked eye you won't see anything - and will almost certainly damage your eyes if you try.

You'll find a good overview of what you need to know to view Venus's transit safely on Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy blog. I think I'm going to be geeky and try to make a projection of it on my patio.

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