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…
Thursday, February 17th, 2011 | Author: OWC Grant
Picture credit NASA, Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)
If you’re a loyal OWC blog reader, you know about our affinity for space related topics. We’ve told you about new life forms, about bombing the moon, even when the first Star Trek episode was unveiled.
So we thought we’d pass this one along…especially for our East Coast readers, as it seems like you have the greatest potential to be affected.
Seems as though an X-class solar flare, the biggest and most potentially destructive type of flare, erupted from the Sun this past Monday.
While we’ve been quietly “peppered” by charged particles since then, the biggest flare of its type since 2006 is projected to hit our atmosphere today.
Now while radio communications disruptions in China have been reported, and there is a chance power grids and satellite communication around the globe can be affected, experts are saying about the only effect we’ll see in the US is some great sky colors over New England and parts of New York State.
From other reports, it sounds like we’re in for more of this for the next few years as we reach a peak in the sun’s current weather cycle.
But the experts at NASA are saying this is going to result in nothing more than some “aurora activity.”
So…here’s hoping the lights stay on for you all…and if they do go out….you at least get a cool light show to watch.
Let us and other readers know if you experience any effects….and no, you can’t use this to blame the bad driving of the person in front of you.