Public viewing of Venus' transit of the sun is today

A rare and significant astronomical event will occur today in the skies above Lincoln and the Department of Physics and Astronomy is offering an opportunity to see it.

The department will have solar telescopes and sunspotters set up beginning around 5 p.m. and lasting until sunset in the Nebraska Union Plaza to watch Venus cross the surface of the sun. This transit will be the last one visible this century.

Greatest transit is 8:26 p.m. (when Venus is in the middle of its path across the Sun).

Historically, astronomers used transits to help determine distances to the sun and the planet. Today, the transit technique is used to discover extra-solar planets around other stars.

The event is free and open to the public. Handouts will be provided with information describing what's going on and the significance of observing these transits.

All are invited also to visit the UNL Student Observatory, which is open every first and last Friday in June, July and August from 9:30-11:30 p.m. on top of the Stadium Drive garage provided the sky is clear. For more details visit http://astro.unl.edu/observatory.

Also, Mueller Planetarium has partnered with Lincoln’s Hyde Memorial Observatory to offer a public viewing of Venus' voyage.

The observatory will be open to the public from 4:30 p.m. to sunset (weather permitting) for viewing of the event.

When viewing solar events, remember to protect your eyes. Never look directly at the sun with the naked eye or even with sunglasses.