The transit of Venus as seen in 2004

By Claire

If I had not chosen to be a climatologist, I would have been an astronomer. I have an awed fascination with all things outside our planet. I love flicking through pictures from the Hubble Telescope and marvelling at the beautiful and incredible things that exist in our universe.

Tomorrow, you will not need to head to the observatory, or even on to the internet to see an extraordinary astronomical event.

On the 6th of June (local time), Venus will cross between the Earth and the Sun, casting a silhouette across the Sun that can be seen from Earth. This event will not occur again in our lifetimes, with the next event taking place in 2117. 

“You can blame that long wait on the geometry and interplay of the orbits of Earth and Venus,” says planetary scientist Dr Craig O’Neill from Sydney’s Macquarie University.

“It’s purely just a consequence of how long it takes the two planets to go around the Sun and how long it takes them to be in alignment again.”

Here in Australia, we will be in the prime position to view the transit. The transit will begin at 8:16am local time and end at 2:44pm.

As a responsible scientist, I feel that I need to point out that you should NOT look directly into the sun to try to see this event. Apart from possibly going blind, the intense light from the sun will likely mean that you wont see anything anyway.

The best and safest ways to view the transit are indirect. A pinhole camera could be a way to go, however, due to the fact that Venus will only appear as a small dot over the sun, I don’t think you’ll see too much with this method. The other option is to set up some binoculars and similarly, project the image of the sun on to a piece of paper.

Alternatively, if you are going to be in Canberra, you can head along to Mount Stromlo and view the transit safely through one of their solar telescopes.