As you have almost certainly heard by now, Venus will be transiting the Sun on June 6. Unfortunately for us in South Africa, the event starts just after midnight local time, and ends just before 7am, so that only the very tail end of the transit will be visible, and even then only to people in the far North-East regions of the country. If they watch the sunrise carefully (taking proper eye safety precautions, obviously!), they’ll be able to watch the silhouette of Venus just leaving the Sun’s disk. So what are the rest of us to do?
As usual with this sort of event, somebody will be pointing a camera at the Sun and streaming the video live over the Internet. Two high-profile hosts are NASA, and the Coca-Cola Science Centre at Columbia University. The NASA transit webcast operators have selected a spot atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii, where the high altitude and excellent weather almost guarantees a clear cloudless view. The Coca-Cola webcast has taken a different approach – they have sent observers to three different spots on the globe, each equipped with their own cameras and a selection of filters, to provide a total of nine simultaneous different views. Either should give an excellent view.
If you’re going to be away from your computer in the early hours of the morning but still want to catch the show, you can try viewing on one of the official mobile apps (for iPhone and Android – both free).
Of course, if you’re not in South Africa and want to try see it with your own eyes, the attached chart (thank you Mr Eclipse!) will give you a good idea of your chances.