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Sunday's Eclipse to be followed by Venus Transit PDF Print E-mail
Written by Andres Chavez, Sun Staff Reporter   
Thursday, 24 May 2012 04:39

If you missed Sunday’s partial solar eclipse, you can wait 45 years for the next one or take advantage of another stellar event, the transit of Venus across the Sun on Tuesday, June 5, 2012 from 3:06 p.m. - 8:02 p.m.

The transit of Venus occurs when the planet Venus passes directly between the Earth and the Sun. After this transit, no transit of Venus will occur for another 105 years! So it’s now or December 11, 2117. The last transit of Venus occurred on June 8, 2004, but was not visible in Los Angeles. The last time it was visible from Los Angeles was December 6, 1882. This alignment provided scientific value since it allowed scientists to measure the size of our solar system.

On Sunday, thousands of the Angelinos, their family and friends looked to the sky as the moon partially blocked the Sun in a rare solar event known as an annular solar eclipse -- a ring of sunlight as the new moon, passing between Earth and the sun, blocks most, but not all, of the sun's disc. Annular eclipses occur when the moon is at a point in its orbit that is too far from Earth to completely block the sun's disk. The result was a ringlike, or annulus, effect.

People watched the event in many different ways. Thousand of people trekked up the hills at Griffith Park to watch as speakers from the Griffith Park Observatory explained what was going on. Many made a picnic out of the event.

Others watched from their backyard or a local park. Some adventurous souls made the drive to Angeles Crest Highway to observe the eclipse. One group of random sun watchers gathered on a hillside with a clear view of the Sun. The crowd ebbed and flowed as people would watch and then go off to continue their Sunday.

It is especially dangerous to look at the Sun directly during an eclipse so people had a variety of ways to deal with the danger. In this particular hillside crowd, one family came equipped with solar lens, obtained from the Griffith Park Observatory, which they shared with everyone there. Two other people created their own camera obscura, an optical device that projects an image of its surroundings on a screen.

One local science teacher had a very simple setup. He punched a hole in a piece of cardboard The light from the Sun passes through the hole and showed the eclipse, in this case, on a piece of paper. The image was small and hard to see but it worked. Kids from the neighborhood flocked around the low tech setup and listened to his explanations.

Jesus Salvaterra searched the internet for his plan he used to build the device. Taking advantage of the box a computer component came in, he taped the sides and put a hole in one end, creating the camera obscura. Since it was a dark container the image easier to see.


A group of Aztec dancers came by but there was too much broken glass in the grass for them to dance. They did play the drums which gave eclipse a more mystical feel.

A woman came with six inexpensive sunglasses and viewed the Sun that way. A No. 14 arcwelders glass would also work. What worked for the eclipse will work for the Venus transit. Which ever method one chooses, the transit of Venus across the Sun shouldn’t be missed.

During the transit, Venus will appear as a small black dot on the face of the Sun. In order to view the Sun and Venus safely during the transit, all telescopes and other viewing should be done with certifiably safe filters. The Griffith Observatory will have telescopes available for free viewing and the will be equipped with proper filters. The Griffith Observatory's Stellar Emporium gift shop will stock official Griffith Observatory Solarama viewing filters and Griffith Observatory Eclipse Glasses for purchase.

The Venus Transit will take place on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Here in Los Angeles, Venus will first cross in front of the Sun's disc at 3:06 p.m. and will continue to move across the disk. The Sun will set in Los Angeles at 8:02 p.m. before Venus slips past the other side of the Sun's disk. For more information call the Griffith Observatory at 213-473-0800 or visit

Last Updated on Friday, 25 May 2012 01:11