(Martin Schutt / Newscom)
Venus Crosses the Sun
Earthlings get a rare view of the planet Venus moving across the face of the sun.
Viewers used special glasses to protect their eyes while watching the event. (ALEXANDER KLEINALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP / GettyImages)
People armed with telescopes, pinhole cameras, and special sun-watching glasses kept their eyes on the skies on June 5. They were watching the transit (crossing) of Venus, when that planet passes directly between Earth and the center of our solar system, the sun.
Starting at around 6:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, sky watchers saw a dark spot moving across the sun’s face. Venus’s trip across the sun took a total of six hours and 40 minutes. However, in most areas of North America and Central America, viewers were only able to see the transit until sunset.
Gazing directly at the sun without eye protection can cause severe eye damage. So students under clear skies in southern and western Japan used dark lenses to watch the event. One student told CBS News that it looked like the “sun had a mole on its face.”
Kellen Tyrrell, 13, watched the transit from Anchorage, Alaska. “It’s not really spectacular when you’re looking at it…” he told CBS News. “…It’s just so cool that I get to experience it.”
The last time earthlings were able to see Venus cross the face of the sun was in 2004. People won’t be able to witness the transit of Venus again until 2117. That’s 105 years from now.
“In the era of the telescope, there have been 258 total solar eclipses,” Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium, told The Washington Post. “But there have only been eight Venus transits. So, the interest in Venus transit is not because it’s a spectacle [a visually striking display], but because it’s extremely rare.”