The transit of Venus is a rare astronomical event that won’t happen again for another 105.5 years. During this phenomenon that lasts roughly six hours, the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, appearing as a small dot on the Sun’s glowing surface.

The next transit won’t be until 2117, so unless you plan on living until then, make sure you watch the transit at sunset June 5 in North America, or at sunrise June 6 in Europe and parts of Africa and Asia.

View the transit of Venus from these locations, at this time. Click for higher resolution. Courtesy of Fred Espenak/NASA GSFC

So it’s a rare phenomenon that happens in a repeat cycle of 243 years, but what else is special about it? Historically, the transit of Venus helped astronomers deduce the distance between the Sun and Earth, way back in 1639. This year, during the 2012 transit, scientists will refine their techniques for searching for exoplanets.

View the video below to learn what make this such a rare event and how to best view it.

*Warning, just like eclipse, DO NOT VIEW THE TRANSIT OF VENUS WITH THE NAKED EYE. Even sunglasses do not offer enough protection. View only with specially-filtered glasses, #14 welder’s shield, or by projecting the image onto a harmless surface.*

httpv://youtu.be/LUJZt-FXSFY

Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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