The event for June is on the 5th, when we can follow the dark disk of Venus crossing 11 degrees of the sun’s surface, from about 6:04 p.m. until the sun sets about 8 p.m.
The McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, 800 McKinley Monument Drive NW, Canton, will have local amateur astronomers with specially equipped telescopes set up on Monument Plaza to view the transit.
If you miss this one, you will have to wait 115 years to see the next one.
Telescopes will be set up at 5:30 p.m. and refreshments and solar viewing glasses will be for sale. Don’t observe this event without the correct filters, as you risk blindness from the sun. Call the planetarium (330-455-7043) if you need advice on safe viewing.
Venus, Aldebaran (the eye of Taurus, the Bull) and Jupiter will be seen traveling together below the Pleiades during the last week of the month around 5 a.m. in the east-northeast. At that same time on June 17, Jupiter and the waning crescent moon — the tiny sliver probably visible only with binoculars — will be separated by only half of a degree.
Mercury will move through the constellation Gemini, the Twins, over the month. At about 10 p.m. on June 17, Mercury will be within 2 degrees of Praesepe, the Beehive, and should be a great sight in binoculars.
Mars will rise early — 1:30 p.m. on June 1, followed by Saturn at 4:35 p.m. Mars will travel out of Leo over the first three weeks of June, joining the gas giant in the constellation Virgo, the Virgin on June 20.
A partial eclipse of the moon will occur on June 4. At 4:50 a.m., the moon will enter the penumbral shadow of the Earth, and by 5:50 will be fully within the penumbra. Unfortunately, it will be very difficult to detect this faint shadow, and until the moon enters the umbra — the dark shadow — it will be below the horizon. If you are in Australia that morning, you will see the entire event.
The summer solstice will occur on June 20, the longest day of the year.
Q: What will happen if I look at the sun without any filters or protection? — R. A., Canton.
A: If you expose your retina — the back of your eye on which light falls — to sunlight, you can cause irreparable damage to the light-sensitive rod and cone cells. The light damages their ability to respond, and can destroy these cells. This blindness may be permanent. If you look repeatedly or for a long time at the sun without proper protection for your eyes, you may also experience thermal injury — the sunlight actually cooks the exposed tissue. The danger to your vision is significant because there are no pain receptors in the retina and while you are cooking your retina, you feel no pain.
Sometimes the effects are not even noticed until several hours later. The only time that you may look at the sun safely with the naked eye is during a total eclipse, when the moon completely covers the disk of the sun. That won’t happen in our area until April 2024. Until then, it is never safe to look at a partial or annular eclipse, or the partial phases of a total solar eclipse without approved equipment.
The Hoover-Price Planetarium is showing Transits through July 1. We will discuss the June 5 transit of Venus and the scientific value of studying transits in general. Shows are at 1 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Weekday shows at 1 p.m. will begin June 4.
The planetarium is included with admission to the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum. Call 330-455-7043 for information.
David L. Richards is director of the Hoover-Price Planetarium at the McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, 800 McKinley Monument Drive NW, Canton, 44708, www.mckinleymuseum.org.