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Armagh Observatory, 28 May 2004: A very rare astronomical event occurs during the morning of the 8th June this year, when the planet Venus crosses the face of the Sun. During the event, known as a 'transit of Venus', the Earth's 'sister' planet Venus will appear as a small black disc, about one thirtieth the diameter of the Sun. The last transit of Venus occurred nearly one hundred and twenty-two years ago, in December 1882.

The entire event, which begins at 6:20 am as seen from Armagh and lasts for a little over 6 hours, will be visible from most of Europe and Asia, Africa and part of the Americas. To mark the event, the Armagh Observatory will be opening its doors for public viewing of the phenomenon, weather permitting, from 6:00 am until 12:30 pm that day. It is also planned to broadcast the event live on the internet from the Observatory.

In the event of cloud or bad weather on transit day, it is planned to link into one of the live webcasts being broadcast from some other location in the world. Also, the last week of the Observatory's transit of Venus exhibition will be held during transit week. Visitors are encouraged to view this interesting display, which continues from Monday 7th to Friday 11th June, between the hours 10:00 - 11:00 am and 3:00 - 4:00 pm, to find out why transits were of such importance in the past. Trace the reason why the Royal Society sent Captain James Cook to Tahiti in the South Seas to observe the 1769 transit and read of some of the many discoveries made during his three-year voyage aboard The Endeavour.

For those wishing to visit the Observatory, it is essential to book your place. For further details and to reserve your place please write, telephone or send an e-mail to: Mrs Aileen McKee, Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh BT61 9DG; Tel: 028-3752-2928; e-mail: ambnarm.ac.uk. Please especially inform Mrs McKee if you wish to be present at the Observatory from 6:00 am or if you are part of a larger group.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John McFarland at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; FAX: 028-3752- 7174; jmfarm.ac.uk; Website: http://star.arm.ac.uk/

Last Revised: 2004 June 4th
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