Viewing the Venus Transit: What’s the Safest Way to Stare at the Sun?

BY Justin Scuiletti  June 1, 2012 at 4:30 PM EDT

As the sun sets on June 5 in North America, a last-in-a-lifetime astronomical event will be visible to those who wish to look. Just don’t do it with your naked eye.

A transit of Venus, wherein the planet Venus visibly crosses in front of the sun is extremely rare – so rare that it will not happen again until December 2117. Anybody can view the phenomenon, but safety is important, experts say.

Luckily, there are a handful of ways to safely observe the phenomenon, including solar shades that allow direct viewing, a piece of paper and so-called “sunspotter,” an H-Alpha telescope, and even Welder’s glass. Edward Murphy, associate professor of astronomy at the University of Virginia, gives us a how-to on these methods in the video above.

But the best way to view Venus, he says, is to use a telescope equipped with a solar filter to block out infrared and ultraviolet rays. This allows a closer and safer view of the transit.

And a word of caution, he says. You’ll be staring at the sun. Wear sunscreen, and a hat.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video has been modified to remove an image of a solar filter that may have misleading.