The Transit of Venus

Venus will pass directly between the Earth and the sun on Tuesday evening

By Tom Kierein and Natalie Lopez
|  Tuesday, Jun 5, 2012  |  Updated 9:03 AM EDT
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Astronomers are gearing for one the rarest events in the Solar System: an alignment of Earth, Venus and the Sun that will not be seen for another 105 years.  Geoff Chester from the US Naval Observatory joins News4 Meteorologist Tom Kierein with more on the transit of Venus.

Tom Kierein

Astronomers are gearing for one the rarest events in the Solar System: an alignment of Earth, Venus and the Sun that will not be seen for another 105 years. Geoff Chester from the US Naval Observatory joins News4 Meteorologist Tom Kierein with more on the transit of Venus.

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A very rare celestial event will occur Tuesday evening and you better catch it...the next one isn't for another 105 years!

The Transit of Venus begins at 6:05 p.m. as Venus begins to cross the face of the sun. Observers are warned not to look directly at the sun during the event because you could permanently damage your eyes.

You can watch the passage happen through safe solar telescopes at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's "Observe the Transit of Venus", a free event from 6 - 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Astronomy educators and museum volunteers will be assisting visitors with viewing the transit through telescopes that will be set up outside on the Jefferson Drive side of the Museum, on the National Mall.

If you're unable to see the event for yourself, not to worry; there's an app for that! The VenusTransit app allows users to track Venus’s transit and is available for iPhone and Android phones.

The 2004 Venus transit was the first time scientists were able to use space telescopes to observe the transit. The next time this event will occur is in 2117.

Venus is about 25 million miles away from the Earth and its orbit around the sun will pass directly between the Earth and the sun.

In the past, the Venus transit was used to determine the precise distance of the Earth from the sun. Tuesday's transit will be another opportunity to even more precisely determine the exact distance of the Earth from the sun.

Follow along with NASA's coverage of the transit of Venus beginning at 5:45 p.m. here.

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