You probably know that today, June 5, a rare astronomical event, the transit of Venus, will occur when the planet Venus will be visible as it moves across the face of the sun and partially blocks its light from reaching Earth.
But as with the recent solar eclipse, it's crucial that you choose a safe way to view the transit. Looking directly at it would damage your eye's retina, the light-sensitive area at the back of the eye that provides central vision. Since children's eyes are even more sensitive and easily damaged, parents need to caution their kids not to look directly at the sun.
Safe options include:
- Watch the transit at a planetarium or program by a university astronomy department. Because Venus will look quite tiny against the sun's vast surface, it will be best to watch this amazing event via professional projection on a large screen.
- Visit NASA's website for a live-streaming broadcast and enjoy a live chat with scientists, if you like.
- Make a simple "pinhole camera" using two sheets of paper: make a pinhole in the center of one sheet; then stand with your back to the sun, holding that sheet so that the sun shines through the pinhole onto the second piece of paper. You'll see an image of the transit of Venus projected on the second sheet.
The following devices will not protect your eyes: sunglasses, binoculars with filters, neutral density filters, or exposed photographic or radiographic film.
This is the last chance for anyone alive today to see the transit of Venus, since it won't happen again until 2117. The complete transit will take about six and a half hours.
For more information on eye health and safety, visit www.geteyesmart.org.