Look! Up in the Sky! It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a planet crossing the face of the Sun!
To be more exact, Venus is making its extremely rare transit in front of the Sun today, at about 5:04pm CDT. During this time, its silhouette will be visible on the Sun’s disc, like a tiny version of an eclipse. In the past, this transit has been used to calculate the size of the solar system. Now, though, it’s just an incredibly rare astronomical event.
How rare is this? Well, that depends; the transit of Venus is on a bit of an odd cycle. These transits happen in pairs eight years apart (the last transit was in 2004). These pairs, however, are separated by spans alternating between 121.5 years and 105.5 years. Prior to the 2004 one, the last Venusian transit was in 1882, 121.5 years earlier. That means the next one will happen in 2117. So if you’re going to see Venus transiting the Sun, this is your only chance.
Of course, you can’t just look up at the sun and see it; you’ll seriously damage your eyes. That’s doubly, triply, and sextuply so for a plain telescope; you might as well just sear your cornea out with a soldering iron. However, there are ways to safely see the transit: Article Continues…