"The next transit of Venus, where Venus appears as a dark spot in front of the Sun, will begin at 22:09 UTC on 5 June 2012, and will finish at 04:49 UTC on 6 June. Depending on the position of the observer, the exact times can vary by up to ±7 minutes. Transits of Venus occur in pairs that are eight years apart: the previous transit was in June 2004, and the next pair of transits will occur in December 2117 and December 2125." from Wikipedia
Aristarchus proposed to measure the distance to the Sun using parallax. This approach based on the geometric principles of parallax last for two thousands of years, until Edmond Halley in 1716 proposed to observe the transit of Venus. The use of Venus transits gave an estimate of 1.53×10^13 cm, 2.6% above the currently accepted value, that of l.49 × 10^13 cm. More recently, in 1910, the parallax was measured using the asteroid Eros that passed much closer to Earth than Venus. A transit of Venus happens when this planet passes directly between the Sun and Earth, appearing as a small black disk moving across the Sun bright disk. The duration of such transits is usually measured in hours.
Read more "Two amateur astronomers at Berkeley", at http://arxiv.org/abs/1202.0950