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Category: Venus

Transit of Venus 2012: Will weather forecast be sunny or cloudy?

Sky cover

Transit of venus graphicWill the forecast be sunny or cloudy? Most of California, the Southwest and Midwest are forecast to have clear skies for the Transit of Venus, a rare astronomical sight that will come Tuesday afternoon. But the East Coast, Southeast and Pacific Northwest will likely face cloudy skies.

The poor cloud conditions on the East Coast mean that yet again, they probably won't be able to see the cosmic show. The rare solar eclipse in May -- the first of its kind since 1994 to directly hit the continental United States -- was not viewable from the Eastern seaboard.

"There's going to be a lot of problems in the eastern part of the country," AccuWeather.com meteorologist Ken Clark told The Times, from New England to the Mid-Atlantic states into Florida. There are "a lot of clouds and thunderstorms scattered about." Washington state, Oregon, and the extreme northern edge of California will also be cloudy.

Transit of Venus 2012: Where can I get solar eclipse glasses?

The weather sparked anger on Twitter. Tweeted @ss_ophelia from Ohio: "Even if I had equipment to watch the transit of Venus, IT'S CLOUDY HERE. THANKS, WEATHER."

Better areas include the Midwest and Central Plains, such as most of Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska. "The absolute best area is in the Southwest," Clark said.

Luckily for the Southern California coast, the "June gloom" of low clouds  is taking a break.

Transit of Venus 2012: How to view once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon

Clear skies are expected in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino for the entire transit, which begins shortly after 3 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time and ends in California at sunset, according to the National Weather Service. Partly cloudy skies are expected for San Diego County.

Finally, in Hawaii, skies are expected to be clear above Mauna Kea, where NASA will anchor live Web coverage of the Transit of Venus online. More webcasts of the transit are also online, including one from Southern California's Mount Wilson.

Able to photograph the transit? Tweet it to us at @LANow and tag it with #LAVenus. You can upload photos to our website.

RELATED:

Full coverage: Transit of Venus

Transit of Venus: How to photograph rare astronomical event

Transit of Venus 2012: Where's the best place to view the transit?

-- Rong-Gong Lin II

Graphic at top: The more blue on the map, the more sunny skies you can see. Credit: National Weather Service.

Transit of Venus: Scientists hope to learn from rare event

Click for full coverage of the transit of VenusWhile the Transit of Venus is generating public excitement, there is special interest from experts who hope they can learn from the rare event.

Jean-Michel Désert, a  Harvard University researcher, will take part in a nearly 400-year-old astronomical obsession — tracking Venus as its orbit carries it directly between Earth and the sun.

This rare event, known as a transit of Venus, takes place only once every century or so, usually in pairs spaced eight years apart. The next one won't happen until Dec. 11, 2117.

FULL COVERAGE: Transit of Venus

"This is a great opportunity for us," Désert said.

"This is a new century, and there's a new set of astronomical questions for which the transit can prove important," added Jay Pasachoff, an astronomer at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. "With telescopes on the ground and in space, we can now use the transits to study things that had not been conceived of in the past."

Pasachoff has been lobbying his fellow astronomers to take the transit seriously, writing last month in the journal Nature that squandering the opportunity to collect as much data as possible would be "a crime."

Pasachoff is in position at the University of Hawaii's Mees Solar Observatory on the summit of Haleakala to observe the transit in its entirety and assess how the Venusian atmosphere polarizes sunlight. Astronomers on his team will be positioned around the world to take measurements with coronagraphs, spectrographs and the orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Even scientists with no professional stake in the event said they would watch the skies Tuesday because the whole thing is just plain neat.

"I think for most of us there's a connection to the science we do, but it's mostly an opportunity to watch a rare and cool event," said Caltech astronomer Heather Knutson, who studies exoplanets. "That's why many of us went into the field in the first place."

Continue reading »

Transit of Venus: Viewing parties planned as excitement grows

The Transit of Venus is generating excitement both among scientists and a curious public, with various viewing parties and events planned for Tuesday afternoon.

When the cosmic show begins after about 3 p.m. PDT,  you can see the tiny black dot of Venus scoot across the sun as it sets.

Venues around the world will provide viewing opportunities for the public, including one for seniors at Leisure World in Seal Beach. Astronaut Don Pettit packed a special solar filter when he departed for the International Space Station in December so that he could safely photograph the transit from space. Members of the Antique Telescope Society have already set up their centuries-old viewing devices in a parking lot atop Mt. Wilson, where Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding.

Modern telescopes in Hawaii, New Mexico and in Earth orbit will use specially tailored equipment to study the sunlight that passes through Venus' atmosphere as a sort of test run for methods they're developing to understand the contents and dynamics of the atmospheres of distant exoplanets.

Nina Misch, who manages the Cosmic Cafe, a glorified snack bar for weekend visitors to Mt. Wilson, said she would keep extended hours Tuesday for whatever business might come from the transit.

TRANSIT OF VENUS: FULL COVERAGE

The Times asked Ed Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, for some tips on watching this astronomical show Tuesday. Below is a Q&A, based mostly on Krupp’s answers.

Q: What’s the best way to view the Transit of Venus?

Sun_transitA: To watch the sun safely means viewing the show through a solar filter. The best view is through a magnified image of the sun – and that means through a filtered telescope. In Southern California, the Griffith Observatory, Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey and UCLA Planetarium will offer free access to outfitted telescopes.

Venus will cross its midpoint on the sun’s disc around 6:25 p.m. PDT. In the continental United States, the show will end at sunset, but Venus will continue to be visible on the sun’s disc until roughly 10 p.m. PDT westward. That means places like Alaska, Hawaii, Asia, Australia, eastern Africa and all but the western edge of Europe will get to see the planet exit the sun’s disc.

You can also buy special solar eclipse glasses that can be used to look directly at the sun safely, blocking at least all but 0.003% of visible sunlight. They’re still available at the Griffith Observatory gift shop for $2.99 a pair. A bargain deal, with pairs selling for just 85 cents, can be found at a wholesaler that manufactures them, Rainbow Symphony at 6860 Canby Ave., Suite 120, in Reseda. It will be open between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

TIPS ON VIEWING TRANSIT OF VENUS

You can also try to find so-called No. 14 welder's glasses that might be on sale at welder's shops or at home improvement stores. Or use a pair of binoculars to project the sun's light onto the sidewalk or a piece of paper, and see if you can spot a small dot that is Venus.

Q: How can I photograph the Transit of Venus?

If you have a solar eclipse glasses, you can cover the lens of a simple point-and-shoot camera and point it at the sun to take a photo. Folks were able to take snapshots of the recent solar eclipse that way. But take care that you don’t accidentally look at the sun with your bare eyes or fry your camera’s lenses without covering them up with protection.

Those with larger SLR cameras, however, will probably find that the solar eclipse glasses aren’t large enough to cover their lenses. At this late hour, it will probably be hard to purchase special solar filters that can cap SLR camera lenses.

Continue reading »

Transit of Venus 2012: Where's the best place to view the transit?

Girl
What’s the best place to see the Transit of Venus? In the United States, find a perch on high ground with a view of the northwestern horizon, so you can see the tiny black dot of Venus scoot across the sun as it sets Tuesday afternoon, says Ed Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

When the cosmic show begins after about 3 p.m. PDT Tuesday, “the sun will be fairly high. But the fun part is following it to sunset and seeing Venus gradually move across the disc of the sun,” Krupp said. “You really want a view of the horizon that is not blocked by buildings or trees.”

Tuesday’s Transit of Venus offers an exquisite opportunity to view one of the rarest planetary alignments –- kind of like Venus eclipsing the Sun from our view, except the planet is so far away that all we see is a tiny dot on the sun’s surface. The next time the Transit of Venus will happen will be in 105 years.

TRANSIT OF VENUS: FULL COVERAGE

The Times asked Krupp for some tips on watching this astronomical show Tuesday. Below is a Q&A, based mostly on Krupp’s answers.

Q: What’s the best way to view the Transit of Venus?

Continue reading »

Transit of Venus: Tips for viewing on L.A. Now Live

What's all the excitement about the transit of Venus? Times reporter Ron Lin and science reporter Eryn Brown have all the details about the astronomical event that won't occur again for 105 years.

The chat is scheduled for 9 a.m., and Lin will be available to answer all your questions, provide tips for how to watch Venus cross in front of the sun from the Earth's perspective and photograph the event. Those watching will be able to see a small, visible dot glide from left to right across the top of the solar disk.

It will begin at 3:06 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time and hit the center of its journey at 6:25 p.m. The sun sets in Los Angeles at 8:02 p.m., but in points west — such as Alaska, Hawaii, Australia, eastern Asia and most of Europe — the show will go on for two more hours. (The transit will occur Wednesday for points west of the International Date Line.)

The Transit of Venus has happened only seven times since the telescope was invented, according to NASA's Fred Espenak.

The last time was in 2004, but the western United States was unable to view it. The most recent time Los Angeles has seen a Transit of Venus was in 1882, L.A.'s Griffith Observatory said.

Venues around the world will provide viewing opportunities for the public, including one for seniors at Leisure World in Seal Beach. Astronaut Don Pettit packed a special solar filter when he departed for the International Space Station in December so that he could safely photograph the transit from space. Members of the Antique Telescope Society have already set up their centuries-old viewing devices in a parking lot atop Mt. Wilson, where Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding.

Transit of Venus: A guide to the big show in the sky

The rare Transit of Venus is expected to produce quite a show on Tuesday afternoon.

Venus will cross paths between the sun and the Earth; we will see a tiny dot floating across the surface of the sun over several hours.

Transit of VenusIt will begin at 3:06 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, and hit the center of its journey at 6:25 p.m. The sun sets in Los Angeles at 8:02 p.m., but in points west — such as Alaska, Hawaii, Australia, eastern Asia, and most of Europe — the show will go on for two more hours. (The transit will occur on Wednesday for points west of the International Date Line.)

How to view the Transit of Venus?

You could buy a pair of solar glasses from a planetarium, like the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, which will sell them Tuesday after 12 p.m. for $2.99 a pair. An even better view, also at the Observatory, is seeing the transit magnified by a telescope, equipped with special solar filters.

PHOTO GALLERY: Solar eclipse

You can also try buying No. 14 welder's glass from a welder's shop or home improvement store. Or use a pair of binoculars, preferably with more than seven times magnification, to project the sun's light onto the sidewalk or a piece of paper. If you're able to find an image of the sun, look for a tiny dot showing the image of Venus.

Transit of Venus from Los Angeles.Don't look at the sun directly. The sun's rays are so bright it will obscure Venus, and you could damage your vision. If all else fails, watch a live NASA webcast from Hawaii.

This week's viewing will be only the eighth time the Transit of Venus has happened since the telescope was invented, according to NASA's Fred Espenak.

As long as clouds don't interfere with the view, most of the world will be able to see at least part of the Transit of Venus, except for southeastern South America, western Africa, Portugal and Spain.

Continue reading »

Transit of Venus 2012: Where can I get solar eclipse glasses?

Glasses

Where can you buy special solar eclipse glasses to safely watch the Transit of Venus, a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical sight that will occur in Southern California on Tuesday afternoon? First, try planetariums or science museums, or head to a home improvement store for No. 14 welder's glass. The best bet? Find a bulk supplier.

In the L.A. area, a major bulk supplier of solar glasses is Rainbow Symphony in the San Fernando Valley, which is selling them for just 85 cents a pair. Rainbow Symphony is located at 6860 Canby Ave., Suite 120, in Reseda. It will be open between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Sun_transitThe city-owned Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles will open Tuesday at noon, selling glasses for $2.99 a pair. Other places, like the Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey, have sold out.

The Griffith Observatory, Columbia Memorial Space Center and UCLA Planetarium are among sites that will make available telescopes with special solar filters for free viewing of the Transit of Venus. A magnified view of the scene is probably the best option for watching the sight.

Viewing the Transit of Venus, which will begin shortly after 3 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time and last for several hours, is an event that hasn't been seen in the western United States since 1882 and won't be seen anywhere on Earth for 105 more years.

At its heart, the exquisite show in the heavens is simple: Venus will cross paths between the sun and the Earth, and earthlings will see a tiny dot floating across the surface of the sun over several hours.

Continue reading »

Transit of Venus: How to photograph rare astronomical event

People observe the solar eclipse on May 20 in Chico, Calif. This photograph was taken through a welder's glass.

How can you photograph the Transit of Venus, a rare astronomical sight that begins Tuesday afternoon?

Here’s a guide on how to take a snapshot the easy way. It's pretty much the same as taking a photo of the solar eclipse.

Transit of VenusIf you have a pair of special solar eclipse glasses designed for looking directly at the sun, you can aim your snapshot or smartphone camera lens through the dark lens filter and see if you can catch the black dot of Venus appearing to float across the surface of the Sun, according to the Reseda-based Rainbow Symphony store, which sells solar glasses.

The bigger your zoom, the bigger the sun will appear.

PHOTO GALLERY: Solar eclipse

A No. 14 welder’s glass fitted on a welder’s mask also makes for safe viewing. But be sure that the welder’s glass is indeed No. 14; that kind of glass is so dark that most welders don’t use it. No. 14 welder’s glass has been in short supply ever since solar eclipse frenzy gripped the world in May. The only safe filters block all but 0.003% of the visible light.

If you’re at an observatory or have access to a telescope equipped with a special solar filter, try placing your point-and-shoot camera over the viewing area.

You can also try reflecting the sun’s light through a pair of binoculars onto the sidewalk or a sheet of paper, and take a photo of the projected image of Venus’ dot moving across the sun.

Continue reading »

Transit of Venus: Solar eclipse glasses needed for safe viewing

A tiny dot of the planet Venus is seen on the northwest side of the Sun's disc as viewed in Manila, Philippines, on June 8, 2004.

As the rare Transit of Venus comes to the United States on Tuesday afternoon in the United States, experts are warning that special eyewear -- such as solar eclipse glasses -- are needed to view the event safely.

You can buy a pair of solar glasses from a planetarium, such as the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, which will sell them Tuesday after 12 p.m. for $2.99 a pair. An even better view, also at the observatory, can be had by seeing the transit magnified by a telescope equipped with special solar filters.

You can also try to find so-called No. 14 welder's glasses that might be on sale at welder's shops or at home improvement stores. Or try using a pair of binoculars, preferably with a magnification power above 7, to project the sun's light onto the sidewalk or a piece of paper. If you're able to find an image of the sun, look for a tiny dot showing the image of Venus. 

PHOTO GALLERY: Solar eclipse

Pinhole projectors that worked during last month's eclipse probably won't work this time, experts said, because the projectors don't have enough resolution to show the planet's shadow.

Don't look at the sun directly during the transit. The sun's rays are so bright it will obscure Venus, and you could damage your vision. If all else fails, watch a live NASA webcast from Hawaii.

Transit of VenusVenus will cross paths between the sun and the Earth, and earthlings will see a tiny dot floating across the surface of the sun over several hours.

This week's viewing will be only the eighth time the Transit of Venus has happened since the telescope was invented, according to NASA's Fred Espenak. It will begin at 3:06 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, and hit the center of its journey at 6:25 p.m. The sun sets in Los Angeles at 8:02 p.m., but in points west — such as Alaska, Hawaii, Australia, eastern Asia, and most of Europe — the show will go on for two more hours. (The transit will occur on Wednesday for points west of the International Date Line.)

As long as clouds don't interfere with the view, most of the world will be able to see at least part of the Transit of Venus, except for southeastern South America, western Africa, Portugal and Spain.

Continue reading »

Transit of Venus 2012: How to view once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon

The planet Venus (the black spot) crossing the sun is photographed through a telescope at Planetarium Urania in Hove, Belgium.

The rare Transit of Venus is coming Tuesday afternoon in the United States, and it's a once-in-a-lifetime viewing chance for West Coast viewers. The next time this astronomical phenomena will happen is 2117.

Transit of VenusAt its heart, the exquisite show in the heavens is simple — Venus will cross paths between the sun and the Earth, and Earthlings will see a tiny dot floating across the surface of the sun over several hours.

How to view the Transit of Venus? You could buy a pair of solar glasses from a planetarium, like the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, which will sell them Tuesday after 12 p.m. for $2.99 a pair. An even better view, also at the Observatory, is seeing the transit magnified by a telescope, equipped with special solar filters.

PHOTO GALLERY: Solar eclipse

You can also try buying No. 14 welder's glass from a welder's shop or home improvement store. Or use a pair of binoculars, preferably with more than seven times magnification, to project the sun's light onto the sidewalk or a piece of paper. If you're able to find an image of the sun, look for a tiny dot showing the image of Venus.

Transit of Venus from Los Angeles.Don't look at the sun directly. The sun's rays are so bright it will obscure Venus, and you could damage your vision. If all else fails, watch a live NASA webcast from Hawaii.

This week's viewing will be only the eighth time the Transit of Venus has happened since the telescope was invented, according to NASA's Fred Espenak. It will begin at 3:06 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, and hit the center of its journey at 6:25 p.m. The sun sets in Los Angeles at 8:02 p.m., but in points west — such as Alaska, Hawaii, Australia, eastern Asia, and most of Europe — the show will go on for two more hours. (The transit will occur on Wednesday for points west of the International Date Line.)

As long as clouds don't interfere with the view, most of the world will be able to see at least part of the Transit of Venus, except for southeastern South America, western Africa, Portugal and Spain.

Entire lifetimes can go by with no one being able to see a Transit of Venus, but we're living in a lucky time to see what Espenak calls one of the rarest of planetary alignments. The viewings occur only twice every 120 years. Since the telescope's invention, Espenak says, it was only viewable in 1631, 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874 and 1882; the last viewable transit happened in 2004 but happened before sunrise in the western United States.

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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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