Central Iowans Can Watch 2012 Transit of Venus at State Capitol Complex
The planet Venus will move in front of the Sun on Tuesday, and central Iowans can safely watch with help from the Science Center of Iowa. The 2012 transit of Venus is a rarity; the celestial event won't happen again until 2117.
Iowans will witness a rare event on June 5, when the planet Venus transits the sun — similar to an eclipse.
In Central Iowa, head to the state Capitol grounds at 5 p.m. for a viewing of the event hosted by the Science Center of Iowa.
The last transit of Venus occurred on June 8, 2004, according to Siobahn Morgan, head of the Department of Earth Science at the University of Northern Iowa, and the next one will not occur until Dec. 11, 2117.
A transit of Venus occurs when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, causing Venus to become visible against a small portion of the solar disk. During such a transit, Venus can be seen from Earth as a small black disk moving across the face of the Sun, according to the Science Center's website.
Join staff from the Science Center of Iowa and the Des Moines Astronomical Society at the Capitol complex near the "Shattering Silence" sculpture to view the transit. SCI will have telescopes with solar filters for you to safely view the transit. The transit will begin around 5 p.m and last until about 8:45 p.m., the center's website says.
Viewing the sun for extended periods of time should only be done with proper solar filters, Morgan stressed. "People should never look at the sun with binoculars or telescopes that aren't outfitted with the appropriate solar filters. Even a small amount of unfiltered sunlight seen through a telescope will damage your eyes," said Morgan.