Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Venus Transit

A very rare astronomical event will take place in the coming night above "EISCAT-land:" the planet Venus will transit the Sun. This means that, given the right equipment, one can see Venus as a black spot pass across the disc of the Sun. This is visible only partially in Europe, where the Sun rises while the transit is in progress. However, because of the Polar Day, north of the Arctic Circle, one can witness the entire event during what would normally be the night. Please refer to this map for details on your area.

The transit will begin today, 5th June 2012, at 22:04 UTC, which, in Northern Europe, is on 6th June at 00:04 CET-DST in Norway and Sweden and at 01:04 EET-DST in Finland.  The transit will end on 6th June at 04:54 UTC, i.e. 06:54 CET-DST in Norway and Sweden, and 07:54 EET-DST in Finland.

This event is very rare. While the previous time this happened was on 8th June 2004, the next will take place only in 2117!

Please make sure to use the right equipment to look at the Sun. You will need special solar filters, or you should use some kind of projection, e.g. a pinhole camera. If you project the Sun through binoculars or similar, make sure not to overheat the instrument!

We wish all of you safe and successful observations, and may the clouds vanish in time!

The photo shows a rather crude image of the partial solar eclipse visible from Sodankylä almost exactly a year ago on 2nd June 2011. The spec of light below the Sun is the reflection in the river. Also this eclipse happened "in the middle of the night," and was visible only due to the Polar Day. The photo was taken by Thomas Ulich using a simple digital camera and a solar filter.

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