Unless you happen to be Moses or Rip Van Winkle, chances are that June 5-6 (that’s this week, folks) will play host a once-in-a-lifetime event: The transit of Venus in front of the Sun. This rare passage of Venus across the solar disk won’t happen again until December 2117, at which point we will all be extremely deceased, barring scientific miracles.
This rare event was hugely important for early astronomers, as it allowed the first accurate measurements of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, as well as the size of Venus itself. Today, it’s more of an event to excite the amateur astronomer in all of us, but still worth checking out.
The olde dayse: How a 20-year-old named Jeremiah Horrocks corrected Kepler’s math and recorded the first transit data (and the image above) in 1639, inspiring Edmund Halley and James Cook to launch global science expeditions during the next transit.
How can you watch it? Without a telescope, the ol’ pinhole camera tricks probably won’t give a very good image since Venus is so small compared to the Sun. Here’s where you can watch it online, and here’s a directory of local astronomy clubs that might be holding viewing events (if they are worth their salt).