As many of you may have heard, today the second planet from the Sun, Venus, will be passing between Earth and the Sun. While it is technically possible to view the eclipse of Venus with the naked eye, this is DEFINITELY not suggested, as staring directly at the Sun is extremely harmful to your eyes. Even with our great sunglasses with UV protection you should never stare at the sun. This UV protection will keep your eyes safe from harm when wore during normal use, but they’re not a good solution for getting a really good view at the closest star to Earth.
But then how can you safely view Venus? A number of different methods will work, but while I really like Solar Telescopes (or Solarscopes) and using various filters on a telescope, I realize many of you aren’t really big astronomy buffs and may simply want to take in this rare Astronomical event without buying new equipment. Instead of a specialized telescope you can actually use a regular pair of binoculars to get a good view.
I chose the Leupold Rogue 10x42mm Binoculars. I love these binoculars for everyday use. They’re lightweight and really well balanced and never make my arms tired, even after hours of use. The lens caps provide a nice tight fit and never feel like they’re in danger of falling off, and the padded case is a perfect place to store them when not in use.
But how do you view Venus with Binoculars?
You may remember making a pinhole camera when you were in school. Often these are constructed from a shoebox, and a very small hole is put in one side of the box, with the light shining through at a single point on the other side. If you aim it directly at the sun, the light that comes through acts as a replica of the sun and you’ll see the shape of the eclipse as the moon passes by.
The same principle applies to using a pair of Leupold Binoculars. As you can see in the photo, I’m holding the binoculars so the light from the sun passes through the objective lens (the lens that is normally away from your eyes). The light from the sun passes through the binoculars at a magnified level and reproduces an image of the Sun. Anyone who’s ever used a magnifying lens to set a piece of paper on fire will understand how this works.
Since you get a replica image of the Sun projected onto another surface (I suggest putting down a piece of paper so you have a nice, solid background), when Venus passes by you’ll see a replica of this as well. This is a very safe way of looking at the eclipse without damaging your eyes!
You can just barely see Venus in the picture above. I’ve added a little arrow so you can see that tiny dot is the planet crossing between us and the Sun. Pretty cool stuff.
If you missed the eclipse of Venus today it won’t happen again for over 100 years, but there are other eclipses you can check out using his same method so be sure to get a pair of Leupold Rogue Binoculars so you’re prepared for next time!