St Patrick's Day 2012 Public Lectures

"Measuring the Solar System: The Eighteenth Century Transits of Venus"

Dr John Butler, Armagh Observatory

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The eighteenth century was a "Golden Age" for science, and many new and important discoveries were made in astronomy. The two eighteenth-century Transits of Venus, in 1761 and 1769, provided a rare opportunity to determine the fundamental unit of astronomical distance: the distance from the Earth to the Sun. The talk will describe how astronomers across the world united in this, the first great international scientific project. It will explain the difficulties they faced in carrying out their observations and their eventual success and the scientific legacy of their efforts.


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Last Revised: 2012 April 24th