(Florida Today) -- The transit of Venus is a rare event that will not take place again for 105 years.
The transit occurs whenever Venus passes in front of the sun. Usually the 3-degree inclination of Venus' orbit makes our sister planet pass above or below the sun.
Photo Gallery: Transit of Venus
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Only when it is at one of the nodes does it actually line up close enough to be seen against the Sun's own disk.
Use the same precautions as you would to observe the partial phases of a solar eclipse. You can use inexpensive "eclipse shades" to get a direct view of the event. Telescopes can also be set up to project onto a simple white card, or into a rear-projection screen.
Special Solar filtered telescopes provide the best view when equipped with a Hydrogen alpha filter. This allows prominences and solar filaments to be seen in high contrast.
Brevard Community College and the Brevard Astronomical Society will host a special Venus transit observing session on Tuesday. The 6-inch refractor telescope that is attached to the side of the 24-inch reflector will be fitted with a solar filter.
The 6-inch refractor is normally used for video capture during night sessions at the BCC observatory. But it will be equipped with a H-alpha filter to allow direct observation of the Sun.
Venus will not be visible as it closes in on the sun. The solar disk will be the only thing seen until the moment of "first contact" when the leading edge of Venus meets the edge of the sun. Second contact occurs when the trailing edge crosses over onto the solar disk.
A "teardrop" effect is often seen where the dark circle of Venus remains connected to the black of space by a neck of darkness. Venus will pass over the disk of the Sun and then exit with a reverse two-step process. The entire event will take several hours.
First contact is predicted for 6:04 p.m. with second contact (full ingress) at 6:22 p.m. The sun will drop from 27 degrees in altitude to 24 degree by the time of second contact. From then until sunset, the sun will have a "beauty mark" that slowly crosses its face. Third contact will not be visible from our location.
But don't despair! The National Solar Observatory (http://venustransit.nso.edu/ ) will be live web-casting the special event from multiple solar observatories around the world. This is a safe and easy way to observe the event in real time. Having multiple sites helps ensure that clear weather will be available, but there's a more significant reason to see the event from widely separated locations. Because of their distribution around the planet, the different observatories will see Venus contact the sun at different times. This relates the scale of the solar system to the terrestrial distances. At one time, this was practically the only way to know how far away the Sun really is.
At the observatory
The observatory is open to the public from 6:30 to 10:15 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, weather permitting. Come catch your breath viewing the rings of Saturn or catch a glimpse of the ice cap of Mars.
Our shows start promptly at 7, 8 and 9 Friday and Saturday nights. Tonight you can ride with the Cassini probe to visit Ring World, explore the world ocean at The Living Sea, and then expand your mind at the Pink Floyd Medley laser show. Visit the Astronaut Memorial Planetarium website (www.brevardcc.edu/planet/) for show descriptions, schedule details, ticket prices, and directions to the BCC Cocoa Campus. You may call the box office at (321) 433-7373 for shows, prices and directions.
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