On June 6 this year, those of us in luck will be able to spot Venus making its transit across the face of the Sun, and I’m fairly confident that a global army of photo enthusiasts will be aiming for snapshots of the event. Last time this happened was on June 8, 2004, and I was fortunate enough to get a single photo of this neighbour of ours, silhouetted against the orange Solar glare. My setup was as simple as it was amateurish; a tiny Canon IXUS 400 compact camera at full (3x) optical zoom, half of a small pair of 8x binoculars in front of the camera lens (for a total magnification of 24x), and one half of a solar eclipse viewing protective glasses at the front. It took several attempts, but at last I got one reasonably sharp and steady image of what looks to most eyes like an ordinary orange 😉
As Wikipedia can tell you, in greater detail than I will do here, Venus transits occur in pairs, eight years apart to within a few days. Each of those pairs happen at intervals of 121.5 and 105.5 years, meaning that unless you plan on being extremely long-lived, watching one or two Venus transits will happen only once in your lifetime. I don’t know about you, but I feel quite lucky 🙂
The next transit is due on June 5th to 6th this year. Depending on where you are and what your weather is like, you may or may not be able to see it. NASA have kindly provided two PDF files, one of which can answer about what locations will be in luck and which ones won’t.
Now, those documents alone may not be able to tell you in simple terms whether or when you’ll be able to see it, so here’s a nifty online tool that’ll, hopefully, make an easy job of it:
Just move the location pointer to where you are at, and the timing details will update immediately on the right. For instance, where I am, transit begins at 00:04 (which anyone with a bit of sense knows is an awkward time for looking at the Sun), center is at 03:29 (also somewhat impractical for Sun-viewing), and it all ends at 06:29, by when I hope that it has already spent some time above the horizon across the valley from my balcony, and that the weather keeps out of the equation. I plan on getting up early for the event, and I want my sky to be clear.
Good luck 🙂