Section V - The Legacy of the Transits of Venus

The next transits of Venus, in 2004 and 2012, though they will no longer hold such great promise of fundamental advance in our understanding of the Solar System as they did in the 18th century, will provide a unique opportunity to appreciate the excitement that must have accompanied this first great international scientific project. The legacy of the 18th century transits of Venus should be seen in the wider context of the great boost they gave to Science in general; from the pioneering botanical and zoological work by the Pacific explorers and the detailed artistic and cultural studies of distant populations, to the improvements in navigation at sea, and the realisation of the benefits to be gained from cooperation between Governments and scientists.

In the words of H. Woolf,

"Finally, the problem of the transits of Venus produced an intensity and breadth of effort on the part of eighteenth century scientists that was unmatched by any other single problem. It brought to a common focus men of almost every national background with an abiding concern for the advancement of knowledge. In doing so, it helped to shape the growing international community of science and to demonstrate with striking clarity what cooperation and good will might achieve in the peaceful pursuit of truth."

Last Revised: 2009 November 18th