The first person to have ever predicted a transit of Venus also happens to be my favorite figure in all of history.
A maligned scientist during his day, Kepler's mother was charged with witchcraft, he was all but ignored by many of his contemporaries, notably Galileo, and he died a penniless wanderer.
To add insult to injury, he didn't even live to see Venus cross the face of the sun, as he had predicted, in 1631.
But we're lucky enough to have an opportunity to witness the event -- the last one until 2117, so, likely the last chance to witness transit that any of us will have. (The last one was in 2004).
Don't miss this rare astronomical event, scheduled to start at 6:03 p.m. Tuesday in the Baltimore area.
Remember, don't look directly at the sun. Here are some tips from NASA for safe viewing:
- Experts suggests that one widely available filter for safe solar viewing is number 14 welder's glass
- If you're using a telescope, be sure it has a solar filter
- Pinhole projectors, though a good way to observe the sun safely, suffer from shortcomings when Venus approaches the edges of the Sun. Small features like the halo around Venus will not likely be discernible
The National Weather Service is, unfortunately, forecasting scattered showers and cloudy skies tomorrow night. But who knows? The skies may clear just in time for a show.
In Mt. Airy, the Westminster Astronomical Society will host a viewing at 705 Ridge Ave. Not only will there be a chance to view the transit through a telescope, but an expert will be on hand to walk attendees through the event.
Check NASA's interactive viewing event map for a list of additional transit viewing events.
Find anything you need to know about the transit at NASA's 2012 Transit of Venus website.
Thanks to Patch reader Dana Schwartz for the heads up!