Viewing Venus

Sunday 6 June 2004

The University of St Andrews will open its Observatory to the public this week for a special viewing event of the planet Venus.

Tuesday (8th June) will offer the opportunity to watch a rare event – the transit of the planet Venus across the Sun, which was last observed 121 years ago.

The opening is organised by Dr Ron Hilditch, Director of the University Observatory. He said:

“The event is of historical importance because the first observations of it, some 370 years ago, helped to determine the size of the Solar System for the first time. Some astronomical groups will be making very careful observations of this next event to test the accuracy of our modern predictions.

“At the University Observatory, there will be one or two small telescopes equipped with solar filters so that a safe image of the Sun may be seen. The planet Venus will be seen as a small black disc crossing the Sun over a 6 hour interval between about 06:15 and 12:15 on Tuesday morning. Under no circumstances should anyone attempt to view this event directly by looking at the Sun with a telescope or binoculars or even the unaided eye, so we are offering a safe environment in which to view this rare event.”

The last time a Venus Transit occurred was on 6 December 1882 and, after tomorrow’s event, the next occurrence is expected in just 8 years time – and that will be the last opportunity for another 105 years. The University Observatory is off Buchanan Gardens, in the middle of the University playing fields. All are welcome, and there is no charge for taking part. The success of the viewings will of course be entirely dependent upon the weather and the visibility of the sun.


Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook on 01334 467227, mobile 07900 050 103, or email [email protected] Ref: VIEWING VENUS 070604 .doc View the latest University news at

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