Venus transit has historical significance for Australia

Jun 05, 2012
Venus transits in front of the sun in 2004 -- in one of the rarest events in the Solar System: an alignment of Earth, Venus and the Sun. Australia is gearing up for the transit of Venus, an event with historical significance as a previous occurrence in 1769 played a key part in the "discovery" of the southern continent.

Australia was gearing up Tuesday for the transit of Venus, an event with historical significance as a previous occurrence in 1769 played a key part in the "discovery" of the southern continent.

When Venus on Wednesday passes between the Earth and the Sun, an that will not occur again until 2117, millions of people will be gazing to the skies, just as Englishman Captain James Cook did in the 18th century.

Cook was not just a keen sailor but also an avid watcher of the planets and in 1768 he set sail for Tahiti on HMS Endeavour to record the phenomena that occurred in 1769.

It was one of only six transits ever observed since the invention of the telescope -- in 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882 and 2004.

After a successful observation he was sent to seek the "great south land" thought to exist in the during which he discovered and charted the east coast of Australia, staking a British claim in 1770.

Australia was first settled as a British colony in 1788.

"Culturally, for modern Australia it's a very significant event," Sydney Observatory senior education officer Geoffrey Wyatt said of the .

"It is technically just a little black spot on the sun, but historically it's so important for us."

Weather permitting, Australia will be one of the best places to observe the spectacle as the entire transit is set to be visible from eastern and central parts of the country.

A series of events are due to be held, with viewings through telescopes adapted to protect the eye, but have put a dampener on expectations of seeing Venus cross in front of the sun.

A major storm front was closing in on Sydney Tuesday, bringing gale force winds and torrential rain, which are set to extend into Wednesday.

The transit is due to begin Tuesday evening in North and Central America.

Explore further: Beastly sunspot amazes, heightens eclipse excitement

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Venus to appear in once-in-a-lifetime event

May 01, 2012

On 5 and 6 June this year, millions of people around the world will be able to see Venus pass across the face of the Sun in what will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Get ready for the transit of Venus

May 25, 2012

Scientists and amateur astronomers around the world are preparing to observe the rare occurrence of Venus crossing the face of the Sun on 5-6 June, an event that will not be seen again for over a hundred years.

The last dance between Venus and the Sun

May 30, 2012

In 1761, Harvard’s Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Philosophy John Winthrop loaded a grandfather clock and a couple of students into a boat and embarked on Harvard’s first astronomical expedition.

That dot slowly moving across the sun? It's Venus

Jun 05, 2012

(AP) — For astronomers, Venus passing in front of the sun is not just a rare planetary spectacle — it won't be seen for another 105 years. It's also one of those events they hope will spark curiosity ...

Recommended for you

Asteroid 2014 SC324 zips by Earth Friday afternoon

11 minutes ago

What a roller coaster week it's been. If partial eclipses and giant sunspots aren't your thing, how about a close flyby of an Earth-approaching asteroid?  2014 SC324 was discovered on September 30 this ...

Who owns space?

21 minutes ago

The golden age of planetary exploration had voyagers navigating new sea routes to uncharted territory. These territories were then claimed in the name of the monarchs who had financed the expeditions. All ...

User comments : 0