The once-in-a-lifetime Transit of Venus is scheduled to be visible in the area today around 6 p.m., but cloud cover may prevent visibility of this celestial event.
The Transit of Venus is the movement of the planet Venus across the surface of the sun. It will be visible from Earth's surface in areas of clear visibility.
Think of Earth and Venus as two cars on a racetrack, said Carlton "Tad" Pryor, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences.
Venus is gradually catching up to Earth, and will pass us on the inside tonight, Pryor said. However, since Venus is approximately 30 million miles away from Earth, it will look very tiny as it crosses between us and the sun - about the size of a BB crossing over a basketball-sized sun, he said.
The movement should be visible around 6 p.m. tonight, and will be over around 8:30 p.m.
"The event will be over when the sun sets for us," Pryor said.
The best place to see Venus tonight would be in Hawaii, where the entire movement of the planet across the sun will be visible, Pryor said.
However, unless the cloud cover clears up, we may not be able to see much of anything, he said.
Those who do wish to look for Venus tonight are urged to do so wearing special eclipse glasses, or by creating a pinhole camera. Prolonged staring at the sun can cause eye damage.
Additionally, if the weather permits, the Rutgers University Physics and Astronomy Department will open their telescopes to the public tonight at 5:45 p.m. for a free viewing of Venus.
They are located on Rutgers University Busch Campus in Piscataway, near the Physics and Astronomy Building on Frelinghuysen Road.
If the clouds do prevent visibility of the event, many internet live feeds have been set up in different locations to document Venus's movement.
The next time the Transit of Venus is scheduled to happen is in about another 105.