(USA Today) - Our toasty planetary neighbor Venus will provide a celestial show Tuesday for the U.S. and parts of every continent.
Venus will pass in front of the sun, creating a tiny pea-sized blemish on the sun's face. The transit will start just after 6 p.m. ET in the U.S. and last for six hours and 45 minutes, though darkness will shorten the viewing times.
The weather will present some problems for transit-viewers.
Socked in with persistent clouds and rain, both the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest will be the USA's worst places to try to see the transit, according to Weather Channel meteorologist Jonathan Erdman. People in New York City, Boston and Seattle will have little chance of seeing the sun, he says.
Viewing will be hit-or-miss in the Southeast, in Texas and the mid-Atlantic states, where partly cloudy skies are forecast.
On the good side, much of the north-central USA, the Desert Southwest and Southern California should have clear skies for viewing. The Weather Channel says that some of the best cities to see the transit include Chicago, Kansas City, Nashville, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix.
If clouds keep you from viewing this last-in-a-lifetime event, you can turn to online webcasts. NASA has live webcasts from around the world, including locations in Hawaii, Alaska and Svalbard, an island in the Arctic. WUSA9.com has the live stream up for the entirety of the planet's transit.
There's also an app, VenusTransit, that can help amateur astronomers watch and log the rare event. The app will tell you predicted times of "ingress," when Venus will first start edging into the sun's halo. You can log when ingress happens, using 21st century crowdsourcing to repeat historic experiments run by astronmers in past centuries.
As with eclipses, you absolutely must not look directly at the sun. Even this rare celestial event is not worth the potential price: permanent blindness. Instead use a welding visor or eclipse glasses to get a direct look. A pinhole projector can also let you get a glimpse of the event.
Think your workday feels long? Try living on Venus, where a day is 117 times longer than on Earth.
Venus' dense atmosphere, made mostly of carbon dioxide, traps heat from the Sun, similar to the Earth's atmosphere. If a human could withstand that kind of pressure (very unlikely), they'd experience Venus' beyond boiling temperature of 880 degrees Fahrenheit, so hot that probes sent to the planet rarely last more than a few hours, according to NASA.
Venus, which is similar in size and weight to Earth, is also home to more than 1,000 volcanoes. The highest mountain on Venus, Maxwell Montes, is about the same size as Mount Everest.
Contributing: Doyle Rice and Zach C. Cohen