Skywatchers and scientists are ready, 'just plain folks' not so much

In a “rare sky phenomenon,” Venus will pass between earth and the sun today. During its six-hour journey just after 6 p.m. EDT, it will appear like a black dot moving across the face of the sun.

If you already know that, move on — what we offer here is for those just taking notice.

The Cosmic Log on MSNBC has come up with a last-minute guide for “just plain folks” that features diagrams, video and a bold-faced warning: “Never gaze at the sun without proper eye protection. Sunglasses are not adequate. Neither are black plastic garbage bags, or film negatives. Unsafe viewing can damage your retinas.”

Beyond the hows, whys and don’t, Cosmic Log provides a useful list of websites that will be streaming the event using video feeds from all over.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event, though the enthusiasts at are already counting down until the next transit. Just 38,537 days to go.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.