Where on Earth will be the transit of Venus be visible? That is the first question from everyone who learns about this rare and remarkable astronomical event coming on June 5-6, 2012. This map answers that question along with a brief explanation of the transit for the interested public.
I made this map to clearly illustrate the circumstances of the transit in a manner that anyone can understand. The technical literature on transits uses precise terminology to describe the phases of a transit with terms such as “ingress”, “egress”, “interior contact”, and “exterior contact”, but these phrases are unfamiliar to most. So I chose to make this map accessible to everyone, from school children to grandparents, and used clear language such as “Venus touches Sun’s disk at sunrise”.
What can you see around the world?
This map shows the transit of Venus in more detail.
The map is centered on the part of the Earth with the best view of the transit of Venus. Persons in eastern Australia, most of eastern and northern Asia, Alaska, and the Yukon will enjoy a view of the entire transit of Venus. Hawai’i will draw many transit of Venus tourists because all of the transit is visible with the transit ending at sunset, surely to be a spectacular view. The peak of Mauna Kea with the giant telescopes will be a perfect venue.
If you are in North America and northwestern South America, you will see the start of the transit in the afternoon and the transit will still be in progress at sunset. An ideal photographic opportunity will be to capture Venus within the Sun’s disk at sunset. Find a scenic location with a clear western horizon for this special view, such as a beach on the Pacific coast.
Most of Europe, western and southern Asia, and eastern Africa will view the transit already in progress at sunrise and the transit will end during the morning. The further east you are, the more of the transit you will see. Find a location with a clear eastern horizon for the special sunrise view of Venus already within the Sun’s disk.
Below Australia and New Zealand is an interesting triangular region. In this region, daytime is short in June. The transit will be in progress at sunrise and still in progress at sunset. Because of the remoteness of this area near Antarctica, very few and possibly no humans will view the transit in this way.
In the north is even more interesting triangular region, bisected on the upper left and upper right sides of the map. You will find this region at Iceland and part of southern Greenland. In this region, nighttime is short in June. If you are in Reykjavik, you will see the transit start just before sunset and then, after a short night, you will see the transit again after the following sunrise. The transit will end in the morning.
Weather trumps location
Of course, weather is the paramount consideration for choosing a location to observe the transit. Jay Anderson, the noted meteorologist of eclipses and transits, has given his forecast on his web site, http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~jander/tov2012/tovintro.htm. His estimation is that the best location for viewing the entire transit with the greatest probability of cloud-free skies is northern Australia.
Update: Corrections were made to the maps on October 19th, 2011.