Poll: What Did You Think of the Transit of Venus?

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(Photo Courtesy: Scott Alan Johnson)

 

CLEVELAND – Amateur astronomers turned an eye to the sky on Tuesday, as the transit of Venus occurred for the last time in this century.

“It’s just amazing, it’s just fantastic,” said Dave Nuti, who attended a public viewing party at Edgewater Park in Cleveland.  “I’m sure there’s a lifetime worth of stuff for me to look at out there!”

June 5 was the last chance in your lifetime to see the transit of Venus across the face of the sun.  The planet won’t visibly pass between the Earth and the sun again until 2117.  In North America, the transit started in the hours before sunset.

“Once the transit is done, once the sun goes down, the sun sets, we’ll take the telescopes and point ’em up.  We’ll show you Saturn, we’ll show you Mars, we’ll show you that stars do have colors,” said Cleveland State University Research Astronomer Jay Reynolds. 

Reynolds, along with officials at the NASA Glenn Research Center, hosted Tuesday’s public viewing and provided free protective eyewear to attendees.

“The idea is, high-density mylar allows us to safely look at the sun.  So basically all you do is hold (it) up, look at the sun, then move it away and you will be able to see Venus in front of the sun.”

Transits of Venus occur in pairs eight years apart separated by either 105.5 years or 121.5 years.

The last Venus transit occurred in 2004, and the next pair won’t happen until 2117 and 2125. 

The reason transits are so rare is that Venus’ orbit is off-kilter from Earth’s orbit by about 3.4 degrees.  That means that when Venus does pass between the Earth and the sun, it’s often too low or high to cross in front of the sun’s face.

During a transit, Venus appears to cover just 1/32 of the face of the sun, so you’ll need “very good conditions and very good eyes” to view without magnification, according to Nick Schneider, an astronomer at the University of Colorado, Boulder. 

Never look directly at the sun without a specialty filter (often available at telescope stores) or #14 welder’s glasses (available at specialty welder’s stores).

There have been only seven transits of Venus since the invention of the telescope in 1610, according to NASA.

They occurred in 1631, 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882 and 2004.

(FOXNews.com contributed to this report)