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Exhibition at Armagh Observatory to Commemorate a Rare Astronomical Event

Armagh Observatory, 22 May 2004: On the morning of 8 June 2004, a most unusual astronomical event will take place. It will be the first time in over 120 years that a transit of Venus across the Sun will occur - an event that has not been seen by any living person.

A transit of Venus occurs when our sister planet moves in front of the Sun as seen from the Earth. Previous transits occurred in 1761, 1769, 1874 and 1882; after June of this year, the next will be in 2012. In the 18th 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, which is the fundamental distance unit of the Solar System and the wider Universe. At the time this was believed to be the last great- unsolved problem in astronomy.

In 1769, the Royal Society of London made extensive plans to observe the transit of that year from different parts of the globe. They sent Captain Cook to the South Seas to observe the Transit from Tahiti and the famous surveyor Charles Mason to observe from Donegal. During this and subsequent journeys, Cook charted for the first time the coasts of New South Wales and New Zealand and discovered the Hawaiian Islands.

To commemorate the Transit of Venus on 8 June 2004, Armagh Observatory is mounting a small exhibition of items relating to the history of the Transits of Venus including items from the Observatory's archives and the George III collection. See the exhibition details at the web site. The exhibition will be open to the public, free of charge, from 10 - 11 am and 3 - 4 pm, Monday to Friday, from Monday 31 May to Friday 11 June, inclusive. Groups of more than six persons are requested to contact in advance Mrs Aileen McKee: Tel 028-3751- 2950, e-mail: ambnarm.ac.uk

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John McFarland or John Butler at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG.
Tel.: 028-3751-2962; 028-3751-2952; jmfarm.ac.uk; cjbarm.ac.uk

Last Revised: 2004 May 24th
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