2012 Transit of Venus

On June 5, 2012 (June 6, 2012 in the Eastern Hemisphere), an exciting celestial event will be seen for skywatchers (weather permitting) when the planet Venus passes between the Earth and Sun. During a six-hour period as seen from Earth, our planet's "twin" will trek across the Sun's disk and appear as a slow-moving, silhouetted black dot. This phenomenon is known as a transit of Venus and is one of the rarest spectacles to be seen in astronomy – the last transit visible in the 21st century and perhaps in our lifetime.

The transit will be visible in its entirety from northwestern North America, Hawaii, western Pacific Ocean, Japan, South Korea, eastern China, Philippines, New Guinea, eastern Australia and New Zealand. For those living in North America and northwestern South America, the transit will begin in the afternoon hours on June 5th. From the mainland U.S.A. and Caribbean, the Sun will set while the transit is still in progress, but the nation's western half will see more of the transit than the eastern half. As seen from Europe, eastern Africa, western Asia and western Australia, the Sun will rise while the transit is already in progress on June 6th. Unfortunately, the transit will not be visible from Portugal, western Spain, western Africa and much of South America.

World Visibility of the Transit of Venus – 2012 June 05-06

Venus goes from east to west (left to right) across the solar disk

Transit of Venus 2012 June 05-06

Just like a solar eclipse, viewing the transit of Venus will require extreme caution and special eye protection or permanent eye damage will occur. The retina can burn even if no discomfort is experienced. It is never safe to look directly at the Sun at any time, even when the transit is occurring during sunrise or sunset.

Transits of Venus are extremely rare and occur in pairs eight years apart about once per century. Prior to the upcoming June 5-6, 2012 transit of Venus, the last transit visible from Earth occurred on June 8, 2004. The next pair of transits will not take place until December 10-11, 2117 and December 8, 2125 respectively, so don't miss this one!