there's not going to be another one until 2117. (Why isn't it regular? I don't know why. Go ask an astronomer. This town is lousy with astronomers.)
When Venus transits the sun you can almost see it with the naked eye, except as we all know you're not supposed to look at the sun. John and I were trying to remember how as kids we had made solar eclipse viewers. We agreed that cardboard boxes were the main component. John said you had to cut a hole somewhere in the box. I thought there was tin foil involved but couldn't remember in what capacity. And sticks. Weren't there sticks? You propped your box on sticks and angled it toward the sun, and you laid on your stomach on the grass and looked into the box. Am I close?
Just in time, the Facebook invitation appeared. Susan Kitchens would be holding a Transit of Venus Viewing at Peck Road Park in El Monte--with her telescope--her specially outfitted telescope--through which we could look at the sun.
It was just as thrilling as I'd hoped it would be to watch through Susan's telescope as the small, black spot appeared at the edge of the large, yellow spot. Venus took its sweet time and crossed the sun like a round, black ship sailing a round ocean of fire inside the round lens. Then Susan pulled out the solar viewing glasses and I put them on.
You can't see a thing with those glasses on until you look up, directly at the sun.
I have never looked directly at the sun before, not for more than a fraction of a second. Through those little scientific miracles I watched the event itself, breathless, with not even a telescope to separate me from it.
Venus, the sun, the sky, the air, the ground, me.