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Today's Transit of Venus Viewing Party Will Move Indoors to Pretlow Planetarium

Cloudy, rainy weather has forced Old Dominion University's Department of Physics to change the venue for its viewing party for today's transit of Venus - the passage of the planet Venus between the sun and the Earth.

The event will now be held inside the Mary Denson Pretlow Planetarium, starting at 5 p.m. A webcast from Mona Kea, Hawaii will be shown at 6 p.m. Seating also will be available in Room 102 of the Mills Godwin Jr. Building, next to the planetarium.

The viewing party was originally scheduled for Whitehurst Beach, but the dense cloud cover necessitated the move to the planetarium.

The transit of Venus occurs in pairs eight years apart, but then doesn't happen again for more than a century. The orbit of the planet Venus takes it directly between the sun and Earth, so it becomes visible against, and therefore obscures a small portion of, the solar disk.

The astronomical event itself will take place from 6-8:20 p.m. Tuesday, June 5. The next transit of Venus will not occur until 2117.

A transit is similar to a solar eclipse by the moon. While the diameter of Venus is almost four times that of the moon, Venus appears smaller, and travels more slowly across the face of the sun, because it is much farther away from Earth. Observations of transits of Venus helped scientists use the principle of parallax to calculate the distance between the sun and the Earth.

A warning: viewing the transit of Venus without proper equipment or techniques can result in serious eye injury or blindness, as with a solar eclipse.

Parking for today's event is available in Lot 20, in front of Perry Library and the Pretlow Planetarium, or in the parking garage at the corner of 43rd Street and Elkhorn Avenue.