Exhibition to Mark Exceptionally Rare Transit of Venus

Venus Transit Image

An image of the 2004 June 8th Transit of Venus
taken by John McFarland using the Armagh
Observatory’s 10-inch Grubb refractor, shortly
before Venus left the Sun’s disk.

The Armagh Observatory is presenting a special exhibition to mark the exceptionally rare Transit of Venus, visible from Northern Ireland on the morning of Wednesday 6 June. During this event the planet Venus – which is presently visible as a bright evening star after sunset – will pass directly between the Earth and the Sun, appearing as a small black circle taking several hours to cross the Sun.

Previous transits occurred in 1639 (the first predicted and observed), 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882, and 2004. In the eighteenth century it was realized that careful observation of such transits from different parts of the world could be used to measure the distance from the Earth to the Sun, the Astronomical Unit, which is the fundamental distance unit of the Solar System and the wider Universe. At this time it was believed to be the last great, unsolved problem in astronomy.

To mark this year’s Transit of Venus, the last visible from Earth for more than a hundred years, the Armagh Observatory will be mounting a small exhibition of items relating to the history of the Transits of Venus including items from the Observatory's archives and the King George III Collection. See the exhibition details at the web site: Venus Transit Exhibition. The exhibition will be open to the public, free of charge, from 10 – 11 am and 3 – 4 pm, Monday to Friday, from Friday 1 June to Tuesday 12 June, inclusive. Groups of more than six persons are requested to contact in advance Mrs Aileen McKee: Tel 028-3752-2928, e-mail: ambnat signarm.ac.uk

For Northern Ireland viewers, depending on exact location, this year’s transit will be in progress at dawn as Venus rises at about 4.50 a.m. in the northeast on Wednesday, June 6th. The transit will end at about 5.50 a.m. when Venus leaves the edge of the Sun’s disk. Given a clear sky, the safest way to observe the event is by telescopic projection of the image of the Sun and Venus onto a white card. Caution: Looking directly at the Sun could cause permanent eye damage. Every effort should be made to see this event as the next pair of transits of Venus do not occur until 10/11 December 2117 and 8 December 2125, and the first of these is not visible from Europe.

See also:
Some images from the last Transit of Venus in 2004.

Venus Transit Exhibition, 2004.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John McFarland at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3751-2962; 028-3752-2928; jmfat signarm.ac.uk; Website: star.arm.ac.uk.

Last Revised: 2012 May 10th