The ‘Supermoon’ and Venus head toward the Sun

Seen in a telescope, Venus enlarges in diameter while waning in phase this month. It\'s coming nearer to Earth as it swings (in its faster orbit) toward the line between Earth and Sun. The 10° scale refers to Venus\'s height above the horizon, as seen from latitude 40° north, 45 minutes after sunset. (courtesy Sky & Telescope)

Greg Redfern,

WASHINGTON – Safety Note: Never look directly at the Sun as it will cause eye damage and possibly blindness; Always use approved and safe solar filters.

On May 20 there will be an annular eclipse of the Sun that will be visible for much of the globe, but not the easternmost U.S. In an annular eclipse the New Moon cannot cover the Sun completely so a “ring” is seen around the Sun.

We enjoyed the “Supermoon” recently when the Full Moon coincided with perigee — being closest to the Earth in its monthly orbit and being 14 percent larger in the sky. So two weeks later the New Moon will be near apogee — farthest from the Earth — so its size in the sky is not sufficient to fully cover the Sun. Only 88 percent of the Sun will be eclipsed.

The last annular eclipse of the Sun was in 1994 and I drove to Michigan and back in a singe day to see this event. This eclipse requires going farther west — out to Texas — and even there the eclipse will not be that great as the Sun will be very low in the sky. One would have to travel even farther west to get a decent view.

For more details on this event, follow this link or this link.

For months, Venus has dominated the view of the western night sky. But now Venus is getting lower in the western sky each day after sunset as it heads for the Sun and an historic event.

On June 5/6, the planet Venus will transit the Sun — cross the face of the Sun as seen from Earth. This is literally a once-in-a-lifetime event as the next Venus transit of the Sun is in 2117! The last transit of Venus was in 2004.

For the eastern U.S., we will see the start of the transit at about 6 p.m. on June 5 but the Sun sets at about 8:28 p.m. while the transit is underway.

For more details on this event follow this link.

For tips on how to safely view and photograph these events, follow this link or this link.

I’ll have more on these events as we get closer.

See what else is in the sky this week here.

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