The 2012 transit of Venus guide

In our transit guide, we reveal the five things you need to know about this once in a lifetime event.


In 2004, astronomers observed the transit of Venus for the first time since 1882

Next month, astronomers around the world will be preparing to observe one of the rarest of predictable celestial phenomenon; the transit of Venus, and it will be another 105 years before anybody will get the chance to see it again. In our transit guide, we tell you the five things you need to know about this once in a lifetime event.


Where can I see the transit of Venus from the UK?

The transit of Venus will appear over the UK at sunrise on 6 June and, theoretically, should be visible from any part of the country. But to really appreciate the transit it’s worth heading somewhere in the Northeast where you’ll be able to observe it for longest. Visit this site to find out what time the transit will be visible in your area.


When is it?

The transit of Venus will take place between 5 - 6 June 2012. It will start at 22:09 UT (Universal Time) on 5 June and finish at 05:00 UT the following morning. The entire event will be visible from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.


How should I observe it?

There are a few ways to observe the transit. The simplest way is to don a pair of eclipse glasses. Make sure they are from a reputable supplier and try not to stare directly at the Sun for too long. 

If you do decide to use your telescope, make sure you fit it with a solar filter. It's up to you whether you decide to buy a solar filter for the occasion or have a go at making one yourself.

Finally, you can use a dedicated solar telescope like the Coronado SolarMax 40.

*Safety is paramount when observing the transit of Venus. Never look directly at the Sun*


When is the next transit of Venus?

You won’t be able to see the transit of Venus again until 2117.


Why can’t I see the transit of Venus every year?

Venus’s orbit is tilted by 3.4° in comparison to Earth's. This means that most of the time the path of Venus doesn't take it in front of the Sun as seen from Earth.


You can find much more information on the transit of Venus in this month’s issue of The Sky at Night Magazine as well as a step-by-step guide to making a solar filter for your telescope.




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