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Photo by: Bazuki Muhammad/Reuters
‘Venus Transit’ to be experience of a lifetime
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
04/06/2012
Israel is among the countries where the phenomenon, which won't take place again until 2117, will be visible.
 
From 5:45 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, Israelis can watch the planet Venus pass directly in front of the sun in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The “Venus Transit” of 2012 will occur eight years after the most recent event, but it will take 105 years – in 2117 – for it to happen again. The phenomenon occurs four times in 240 years. Israel is among the countries where the phenomenon will be visible.

As Venus is much smaller than the sun (and the Earth), it blocks out only about three percent of the image of the sun – so the sky will not become darker or the air colder as in other types of eclipses. A small dark disk passing over a small part of the sun will be visible without any patterns due to the thickness of the atmosphere.

The phenomenon of Venus Transit was predicted in 1627 by German astronomer Johannes Kepler, but he didn’t live long enough to see it himself.

To avoid damaging your retinas, do not peer through dark glasses, digital camera or old camera film. Taking a peek for a split second can cause permanent loss of vision from exposure to the sun’s powerful rays.

Instead, one can face the opposite direction, make a pinhole in a piece of cardboard and put another piece behind that to let the image through (retro projection).

But the best viewing option is to watch a broadcast of the event from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, the Bareket Observatory or the Givatayim Planetarium.

Israel is a good place for viewing the Venus Transit (via professional observatories) but it will take longer here. It will not be easily visible in the skies over South America, Portugal and part of Spain and southern and western Africa.
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