The transit of Venus across the solar disk won't make it okay to stare into the sun. Here's how to watch this rare astronomical event safely.
Many people are planning to watch the transit of Venus on Tuesday (June 5), but it's extremely important that prospective viewers be warned to take special precautions (as with a solar eclipse) to view the silhouette of Venus against the brilliant disk of the sun.
For the United States and Canada the transit will begin when the dark disk of Venus first touches the outer edge of the sun, an event that astronomers call Contact I. From the Eastern U.S. and Eastern Canada, Contact I should occur around 6:03 p.m. EDT (2203 GMT). From the Western U.S. and Western Canada, Contact I should occur around 3:06 p.m. PDT.
It will take about 18 minutes for the black disk of Venus to move completely onto the sun's face; ultimately bringing its black disk just inside the sun's upper left edge. If you imagine the sun's disk as the face of a clock, Contact I will occur between the 11:30 and 12 o'clock position. Venus will then progress along a track that will run diagonally from the upper left to the lower right.
If you wish to generate predictions for the transit times from where you live, the Astronomical Applications Department of the US Naval Observatory has produced an online Transit Computer at: http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/astronomical-applications/data-services/transit-us
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