Hey, hipster tech nerd, put down your iPad. Yes, we know you use it to view constellations, but how about witnessing a solar event sans Apple device? On Tuesday, June 5, the asto-gurus of Boise Astronomical Society will partner with the College of Western Idaho to assist curious viewers as they observe a rare occurrence.
Assuming that Mother Nature cooperates, BAS representatives will set up specially filtered telescopes in the large field on the side of the CWI campus building at 4 p.m. so attendees can watch the transit of Venus across the sun without worrying about burned retinas. Attendees should expect to see the disc of the sun with a black dot superimposed on top of it. Depending on the telescope, the sun's features—such as sunspots—may be visible as well.
According to the BAS, Venus' last trip across the great ball of fire was in 2004 and visible from the Eastern hemisphere. The planet doesn't like to make the trek too often—this solar happening only occurs about twice per century. So if you miss out this time around, you're basically SOL--unless you're really lucky, have superhuman genetics or have been downing tons of life-prolonging herbs. Venus' next jaunt won't be until 2117.
BAS's Andie Woodward said transits such as the one on June 5 hold significant historical value—for example, the transit of 1769 was the impetus for Captain James Cook's first voyages to the South Pacific.
BAS is a group of astro enthusiasts boasting approximately 80 member families. The group meets monthly at the Discovery Center of Idaho and hosts star parties and viewing events throughout the year. More info about the group and a calendar of its events can be obtained at its website. .