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TUESDAY: Watch Transit of Venus in Cleveland

Cuyahoga Astronomical Association, Cleveland State University, others will host free event at Edgewater Park

A little after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, we will have an opportunity to witness one of the rarest predictable celestial events: a transit of Venus, and a festival at Edgewater Park will allow you to witness it for free.

The Transit of Venus

Often referred to as the "Evening Star" or "Morning Star," Venus is the brightest natural object in our sky after the Sun and the Moon. As the second planet from the Sun, it's closer to the Sun than the Earth is. 

A "transit" of Venus occurs when Venus passes between us and the Sun in such a way that we can see Venus's silhouette backlit by the Sun's brilliant light. It last happened in 2004, but it won't happen again until 2117. Unless you plan to shatter some human longevity records, this is probably your last chance.

Were Venus either large enough or close enough to block out the Sun's light as it passed, we would call this event an eclipse, as we do when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. Venus, however, is a little bit smaller than the Earth and about 27 million miles away. When its tiny silhouette is viewed against the Sun, which lies another 66 million miles beyond, it can offer viewers a dramatic sense of the solar system's vast scale.

Assuming sufficiently clear skies, the transit will be visible for us starting just after 6 p.m. on Tuesday and will remain so until the sun sets. Those in the central and western U.S. will be able to enjoy it longer, while viewers in Alaska, Japan, and large sections of Australia, China, and Russia will be able to see it in its entirety. By the time the Sun rises on the East Coast on Wednesday, Venus will have completed the transit.

Watch It At Edgewater Park

The Cuyahoga Astronomical Association will host a free public event beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Edgewater Park, 8701 Lakeshore Blvd, NE in Cleveland.

The event, in partnership with Cleveland State University, Baldwin-Wallace College and the Cleveland Astronomical Society, will feature professional and amatuer astronomers helping participants see the transit. 

It will also feature exhibitors and activities. The event lasts until 11 p.m.

Click here for more information about the event.

Watch It at Home

Never look directly at the sun with your naked eyes. You can damage your eyes. Likewise, viewing the sun with either binoculars or a telescope can direct the sun's magnified rays directly into your eyeball and cause serious injury―think about what happens to ants under a magnifying glass.

Sunglasses do not provide sufficient protection. If you know someone who works in plumbing or construction, ask them if they have any #14 welder's glass. You can look directly at the sun through this material without risking injury.

If you have a tripod or a partner and a pair of steady hands, you can use binoculars to project an image of the Sun onto a white piece of paper. Remember, don't look through your binoculars at the sun!

Though it's not quite the same as viewing the phenomenon in person, there are several places to watch the transit of Venus online:

Lastly, there's Don Pettit, an astronaut currently aboard the International Space Station. Pettit's not doing a video feed, but he will become the first person to ever photograph a transit of Venus from outer space

Ruth June 05, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Can we see this at Lakewood Park?
Nikki Ferrell June 05, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Hmm, I'm not sure, Ruth. I'm sure the sun will be within sight from the park, but I don't know about anyone providing telescopes or other gear to help you watch it safely there. But if you have any of the equipment listed above, I say go or it!
Alex Vandehoff June 05, 2012 at 01:56 PM
It's a simple question - if the moon was made of cheese, would you eat it? I know I would. Personally, I think the moon is made of spare ribs.
Mitch Cooper June 05, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Yes, Harry Caray, I would. But I think the better question is: If I were a hotdog, would ya' eat me?
Ruth June 05, 2012 at 10:27 PM
So I am missing out on seeing this wonder. But the radio said a good time would be at 8:55 at sunset. And how many people look at sunsets every evening without protective eye gear? That has me puzzled.

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