This year two rare astronomical events will take place in Australia, the Transit of Venus and a total solar eclipse.
The Transit of Venus occurs when you are able to see the planet Venus pass across the face of the Sun. This event took place on 6 June 2012.
A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon fully or partially blocks the Sun as it passes between the Sun and the Earth. On 14 November 2012, parts of Queensland will experience a total solar eclipse.
The following are tips for viewing these rare phenomena safely.
- Never look directly at the Sun without proper eye protection. It is possible to suffer serious and permanent eye damage by looking at a solar eclipse. The only time that the Sun can be viewed safely with the naked eye is during a total eclipse, when the Moon completely covers the disk of the Sun. It is never safe to look at a partial or annular eclipse, or the partial phases of a total solar eclipse, without the proper equipment and techniques.
- Always use solar eclipse glasses, or filters that have been made specifically to attach to hand-held glasses, telescopes or binoculars for safe solar eclipse viewing.
- Look for filters that have been appropriately certified against the European Standard for personal eye equipment (EN 1836:2005+A1:2007) or the Australian Standard for welding shields and goggles with a lens category higher than 12 (AS/NZS 1338.2:1992 & AS/NZS 1338.1:1992 superseded as at 29 June 2012 by AS/NZS 1338.2:2012 and AS/NZS 1338.1:2012).
- Before using solar eclipse glasses or filters, check to see if they are scratched or damaged. If so, do not use them as they will not fully protect your eyes.
- Do not use solar eclipse glasses or filters that do not show compliance with the Standards listed above - they may do you more harm than good.
- Do not look directly through binoculars, telescopes or camera optical viewfinders. It is not safe to use regular sunglasses, exposed film or x-ray film to view a solar eclipse.
- Alternative safe viewing methods include using pinhole, binocular or telescope projection. Visit the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Sun-Earth Day website for details on how to do this safely. For information on filters for telescopes or binoculars visit NASA's Eclipse website.
For more information visit the Astronomical Association of Queensland website.
Homepage photo courtesy of Terry Cuttle.
Last reviewed 01/11/2012