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Follow Venus as it transits the sun -- on your smartphone

June 04, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • A screen grab of the Transit of Venus App from from the iTunes Store.
A screen grab of the Transit of Venus App from from the iTunes Store. (iTunes )

The transit of Venus is almost upon us!

If you live in the United States, you've got from just after 3 p.m. Pacific time Tuesday until sunset to get your solar glasses, or No. 14 welder's glass, and watch as the planet Venus crosses in front of the sun. It won't do that again for 105 years.

The planet will appear as a moving black dot on the surface of the sun. Some have described it as looking like a little black hole has been punched through the sun, according to NASA.

Those who would like to turn this real-world astrological event into a social media experience can download the Transit of Venus app, which was brought to you by Astronomers Without Borders, the Venus Transit Project and GIS software company ESRI.

The app allows citizen scientists to see where on Earth the transit is visible and at what times. It also lets users record their own observations about the transit of Venus -- noting when it hits the edge of the sun -- and share pictures of the transit via Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube.

The app makers are framing the app as way to re-create the 1769 experiment when European nations sent scientists on ships to observe the transit from various points on the globe in the hopes of getting enough data to determine how far the Earth is from the sun.

"Anyone can emulate the expeditions of old without leaving home or making lengthy measurements of their location or local time," Astronomers Without Borders wrote in a release.

But we think it's cool to share an astrological event with thousands of people from around the world, who are also psyched and geeked-out just to see a tiny black dot show up on the sun.

If you plan to download the app, we suggest getting it early so you can practice timing the exact moment when Venus appears to be touching the edge of the sun.

Of course, you don't have much time. Space.com's transit of venus clock continues its relentless countdown to the big moment.

Less than 24 hours to go!

ALSO:

A flying cat: Dutch artist turns dead feline into a helicopter

Transit of Venus 2012: How to view once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon

Transit of Venus: Solar glasses are suddenly a very hot commodity

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