Transits of Venus

the first approximately accurate results in the measurements of the spheres given to the world [was made] not by the schooled and salaried astronomers who watched from the magnificent observatories of Europe, but by unaided amateurs and devotees to science in the youthful province of Pennsylvania. - Royal Astronomer of England

During the Seven Years War, about 250 astronomers from the warring nations worked together to plan expeditions to record the Transit of Venus from more than 100 locations around the globe including the Arctic Circle, Baja California, India, Newfoundland, Siberia and Tahiti. After the two transits, eight years apart, the astronomers were able to estimated the distance from the Earth to the Sun between 92.9 million and 96.9 million miles, very close to the actual distance of 92,960,000 miles. - AsNotedIn



Y/M/D Description Place
1610/00/00 Galileo Galilee is the first person to see Venus as more than just a bright point of light in the sky.
1631/12/06 Johannes Kepler, using meticulous astronomical data recorded by Tycho Brahe, correctly predicts that Venus would pass in front of the Sun on 6 December 1631. The transit was not visible from Europe at all and there are no known observations.
1639/12/04 Jeremiah Horrocks and William Crabtree become the first astronomers to use telescopes to observe the transit of Venus on Sunday 24 November (4 December New Style). Horrocks predicted the transit by using better data than available to Kepler. Ivy Cottage, Lower Broughton Road, City of Salford
1716/00/00 In the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Edmund Halley illustrates Gregory's theory and the importance of observing the transits of Mercury and Venus to accurately determine the distance between the Earth and the Sun.
1761/06/00 French astronomer Guillaume Le Gentil views the transit from on a rolling boat. Sailing from France in 1760, he had planned set up in the French port of Pondicherry in India, but the British had taken possession of the city.
1761/06/00 Although they planned to be in Sumatra, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon record the transit of Venus from a temporary observatory erected in Cape Town.
1761/06/06 Protected by a cordon of armed Cossacks, Paris astronomer, Jean-Baptiste Chappe d'Auteroche observes the Transit of Venus from Tobolsk, Siberia. He didn't return to France until 1763.
1769/06/00 After waiting eight years in the region, Guillaume Le Gentil returns to Pondicherry, India (back under French control) to view the Transit of Venus, but his view is obscured by clouds, sand and dust.
1769/06/03 At the Mission of San Jose del Cabo at the tip of the Baja California peninsula, Jean-Baptiste Chappe d'Auteroche, records the second transit of Venus. Delirious with fever, he died from typhus hours after recording his final data. Baja California Sur, Mexico
1769/06/03 David Rittenhouse views the 1769 Transit of Venus. Although he fainted at the beginning of the observation, he was able to quickly recover and record his findings. Rittenhouse Farmhouse, Norristown, PA
1769/06/03 Along with Daniel Solander, Charles Green and Captain James Cook, Joseph Banks, studies the transit of Venus from the island of Tahiti. Tahiti, French Polynesia
1769/06/03 Swedish naturalist Daniel Solander, English naturalist Joseph Banks, English astronomer Charles Green and Captain James Cook, view the transit of Venus from the island of Tahiti. Tahiti, French Polynesia
1769/12/21 Benjamin Franklin publishes "Overservations of the Transit of Venus over the Sun, June 3, 1769, made by Mr Owen Biddle and Mr Joel Bayley, at Lewestown, in Pennsylvania" in the Journal of the Royal Society of London.
1771/00/00 Guillaume Le Gentil returns to Paris and discovers his heirs had declared him dead and divided up his estate.

Data »

Science: Astronomy
Atmospheric Feature: Celestial Phenomenon

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