MIAMI (CBSMiami) - We are all familiar with solar eclipses, where the moon passes in front of the sun blocking out the sun's light, now we're in for another amazing celestial event, a transit of the planet Venus across the Sun.
Because Venus is so far away, the transit will appear as a small black dot against the Sun. It will take six hours and 40 minutes.
Photo Gallery: Transit of Venus
See Also: Solar halo, sun dogs spotted!
If you are at all able to witness this event, keep safety in mind. You can damage your eyes by staring at the sun.
There 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. Many will also have experts on hand who could talk about the history and significance of a Venus transit.
- Tune in online. NASA, Slooh.com and the Exploratorium in San Francisco are among those that plan live webcasts.
In Florida, you'll be able to witness this spectacular event from 6 p.m. until the sun sets, before 8 p.m. Venus will look like a black circle slowly moving across the surface of the sun.
The last transit of Venus took place in 2004 but the next occurrence of this astronomical wonder will be on Dec. 11, 2117. Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena. There have been only seven such transits since the invention of the telescope.
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