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Archive for Saturday, June 2, 2012

Group to host viewing party for transit of Venus

After Tuesday, passing won’t happen again until 2117

June 2, 2012

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Infrequent. A long time. Once in a blue moon. A rare event.

FILE - This June 8, 2004 file photo shows the transit of Venus, which occurs when the planet Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun, is pictured in Hong Kong. Venus will cross the face of the sun on Tuesday June 5, 2012, a sight that will be visible from parts of Earth. This is the last transit for more than 100 years.

FILE - This June 8, 2004 file photo shows the transit of Venus, which occurs when the planet Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun, is pictured in Hong Kong. Venus will cross the face of the sun on Tuesday June 5, 2012, a sight that will be visible from parts of Earth. This is the last transit for more than 100 years.

How to safely watch the transit

Here are a few ways to protect yourself:

• Wear special viewing glasses such as solar eclipse glasses. You can buy them online or at your local museum. Alternatively, you can go to a hardware store and get a pair of welder’s glasses, but make sure it’s number 14 or darker. Or make a pinhole projector with cardboard. Do not watch the transit with regular sunglasses.

• Peer through telescopes outfitted with special filters at viewing parties hosted by museums, observatories and astronomy clubs.

• Tune in online. NASA, Slooh.com and the Exploratorium in San Francisco are among those that plan live webcasts.

— Associated Press

Astronomy aficionados will have the opportunity to catch one of the universe’s rarest events Tuesday: the transit of Venus, when Venus passes the sun’s path, appearing as a small, black dot against the sun’s backdrop.

The Astronomy Associates of Lawrence, an astronomy club, will host a viewing event at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Lied Center parking lot for those who’d like to catch a glimpse of something that won’t happen again until 2117.

“Not many people in the history of Western civilization have seen this through a telescope,” said Rick Heschmeyer, president of the club.

The transit occurs in pairs, eight years apart, before taking a long hiatus. The transit happened in 1874 and 1882, before occurring again in 2004. The next scheduled transit, for those who like to plan ahead, will be in December 2117.

Heschmeyer said the club will provide filtered telescopes to protect against harmful sun rays. The transit will not be viewable without such equipment.

Viewers will have a three-hour window Tuesday to catch the transit, Heschmeyer said.

For more information, visit the group's website.

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