MIAMI (CBSMiami) – We are all familiar with solar eclipses, where the moon passes in front of the sun blocking out the sun’s light, now we’re in for another amazing celestial event, a transit of the planet Venus across the Sun.

Because Venus is so far away, the transit will appear as a small black dot against the Sun. It will take six hours and 40 minutes.

If you are at all able to witness this event, keep safety in mind. You can damage your eyes by staring at the sun.

There are a few ways to protect yourself:

  • Wear special viewing glasses such as solar eclipse glasses. You can buy them online or at your local museum. Alternatively, you can go to a hardware store and get a pair of welder’s glasses, but make sure it’s number 14 or darker. Or make a pinhole projector with cardboard. Do not watch the transit with regular sunglasses.
  • Peer through telescopes outfitted with special filters at viewing parties hosted by museums, observatories and astronomy clubs. Many will also have experts on hand who could talk about the history and significance of a Venus transit.
  • Tune in online. NASA, and the Exploratorium in San Francisco are among those that plan live webcasts.

In Florida, you’ll be able to witness this spectacular event from 6 p.m. until the sun sets, before 8 p.m. Venus will look like a black circle slowly moving across the surface of the sun.

The last transit of Venus took place in 2004 but the next occurrence of this astronomical wonder will be on Dec. 11, 2117. Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena. There have been only seven such transits since the invention of the telescope.

Around South Florida, planetariums and astronomy clubs are organizing public viewing events with filtered telescopes and experts on hand to explain the phenomenon.

  • FAU will have a free viewing on the roof of a parking garage, complete with telescopes and a scale model of the solar system.
  • Buehler Planetarium on Broward College’s Davie campus will offer free viewing at its observatory.
  • Astronomy clubs in Broward and Palm Beach counties will also have viewings on the fringes of the Everglades in Weston and Delray Beach respectively.
  • The Miami Science Museum and Planetarium will also hold a viewing for members only.

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