Venus transit 2012 begins as the world looks to the sky
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime event because it won't happen again for another 105 years or so.... I'm pretty lucky to be alive right now," said Chris Spellman, 40, of Monrovia, who was setting up his telescope at the Griffith Observatory.
At Caltech in Pasadena, a pep band was preparing to play Sousa's "Transit of Venus March." Astronomers from Mount Wilson in Southern California to Mauna Kea in Hawaii were eagerly greeting the extremely rare planetary alignment with high-powered telescopes equipped with protective solar filters. The next Transit of Venus won't happen for 105 years. The view ends at sunset in the United States, and continues in points west -- Hawaii, Asia, eastern Africa, and Europe -- until just before 10 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.
"Woohoo!" exclaimed an astrophysicist watching Venus cross the sun in Hawaii over a live NASA feed online. "Ohh, it's amazing!" said another.
The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles was expecting thousands of people to show up on its lawn to view the cosmic show, and experienced astronomers united with amateurs to watch something that has not been viewable in California since 1882.
Tom Baker, 54, Simi Valley, pulled his son, Thomas Baker, 7, out of school to watch, and both had been there since 10 a.m.
His teacher said that if he got a photograph he'll be able to get some extra points for it, Baker said.
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-- Melissa Leu at Griffith Observatory, Eryn Brown at Caltech with Rong-Gong Lin II
Photo: Sungazers are starting to turn out at Griffith Observatory, including those in a long line to buy special solar glasses. Credit: Melissa Leu / Los Angeles Times