Transit of Venus: Where to watch the rare celestial event

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The transit of Venus is a phenomenon that won't be witnessed again for another century, and Hawaii is considered to be one of the prime viewing spots for today's celestial event.

"Starting at 12:09 p.m. you'll see a little black dot biting into the Sun," said Mike Shanahan, Director of Education and Planetarium at Bishop Museum, "and it will take a number of minutes for the ball of Venus to entirely encroach on the sun's disk and then slowly it'll make its way across the disk of the sun."

The spectacle will last for more than six hours and to safely see it, you'll need to pick up special eclipse glasses.

"And then you just walk out anytime between 12:09 p.m. and sunset, put it over your eyes first and then look up and then you'll observe the black dot going across the sun," said Shanahan.

If you want to further your "transit of Venus" experience, the museum will also have telescopes for your use as well as a streaming Webcast from Mauna Kea.

According to the University of Hawaii this event has a special historical significance in the islands. On December 8, 1874, a British expedition made the first scientific astronomical observations in Hawaii by observing the transit from a site near the corner of Punchbowl and Queen Streets in Honolulu, as well as from locations in Waimea on Kauai and Kailua-Kona on Hawaii. They observed the transit to gather data that would be used to determine the precise distance between Earth and the sun, and thereby, to measure the size of the solar system.

If you miss this rare occurrence, you're pretty much out of luck when it comes to seeing it again.

The next time the "transit of Venus" comes into Earth's view will be on December 11, 2117 at 1:58pm HST.

  • Click on the links below for complete information on all of the "transit of Venus" events at Bishop Museum.
  • The Institute for Astronomy of the University of Hawaii at Manoa will provide facilities for the public to safely view the transit of Venus—Venus crossing the disk of the sun—at Waikiki Beach, at the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, and at Ko Olina Resort near Lagoon 4.

    At each location, IfA will distribute free "solar viewers" that will allow people to look at the sun without damaging their eyes. There will also be telescopes equipped with solar filters to give people a better view of this event.

    The Waikiki Beach viewing site will be at the Sunset on the Beach location toward the Diamond Head end of Kalakaua Avenue, where there will be screens showing webcasts of the transit as viewed from Mauna Kea and Haleakala. There will also be robotics displays and other science and technology activities for children and adults.

    The Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is located on Ford Island. While the museum usually charges an admission fee, viewing the transit of Venus and related activities will be free, and the museum will stay open until dusk. In addition to viewing the transit, those who come to this venue will be able to see a show in the IfA's StarLab planetarium and a robotics display, and there will be other demonstrations and activities for children and adults.

    The public is also invited to view the transit at Ko Olina Resort near Lagoon 4. Assisting IfA personnel there will be Greg McCartney and Stars Above Hawaii as well as amateur astronomers. There will be robotics, swimming in the lagoon, and other activities, all free.

    Weather permitting, there will also be a small viewing station on the lawn of Institute for Astronomy, 2680 Woodlawn Drive in Mânoa. Institute for Astronomy Frontiers of Astronomy Community Event: Talking Transit: The Sun-Venus-Earth Connection: A panel discussion about the upcoming transit of Venus. Dr. Paul Coleman will speak about Hawaii's historical role in research using the 1874 transit of Venus, Dr. Shadia Habbal will speak about the Sun and its connection to Venus and Earth, Dr. Peter Mouginis-Mark will talk about Venus itself, and Dr. Roy Gal will speak about the transit on June 5.

For the latest information about these venues, go to

  • Chaminade University will offer a special viewing of the transit of Venus on June 5, from 12 noon to 4 p.m., at Wiegand Observatory next to Kieffer Hall, near the top of campus, 3140 Waialae Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii 96816. Chaminade Physics professors, Matthew Cochran and Eric Dodson, will be on hand to answer questions and assist viewers with the university's eleven inch telescope, equipped with a solar filter. In addition, "eclipse shades" will be available. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Heidi Harakuni (808) 440-4204. 
  • On Hawaii Island, there will be telescope viewing at the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station. You will find information here. ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo is also planning some activities related to the transit, including having NASA webcast of the transit playing in their lobby and telescope viewing on their lawn (weather permitting) free of charge. Go to their website ( for the full schedule and the latest updates.

Never look directly at the sun without proper eye protection. Sunglasses do not provide enough protection. You can find more safety information here.