Night Talk: Transit of Venus - 1631 to the present
Thursday, 1 March 2012 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (AEDT)
Transit of Venus
In 2012, on 6 June we will have a second chance to witness one of the most famous astronomical events, a rare transit of Venus. This event takes place when, as seen from Earth, Venus crosses in front of the Sun. It occurs in pairs eight years apart and there is approximately one pair during each century. The transit of 2012 follows the one in 2004 and will be the last opportunity in our lifetime to see a transit.
To astronomers of past centuries transits of Venus were of great scientific importance as they allowed them to measure the Earth’s distance from the Sun and hence derive the size of the solar system. As well, transits of Venus form an essential part of Australian history for Captain James Cook mapped the continent’s east coast and claimed possession on behalf of the British Crown while on his return voyage from observing the 1769 transit from Tahiti.
About the talk
Dr Nick Lomb, recently retired curator of Astronomy at the Sydney Observatory, will briefly outline the history of the seven transits of Venus that have occurred since the invention of the telescope. Some of the many adventurous journeys by astronomers to observe the two 18th century transits will be related and some of the observations made from Australia of the 1874 transit will be described. The talk will finish by discussing how and from where to observe the coming transit. You will be able to purchase Dr Lomb's book Transit of Venus: 1631 to present during the evening from the Museum book shop.