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Transits of Venus
1000 AD – 2700 AD
  Logo showing the transit of 2004 June 8th
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Dedication

These pages are dedicated to the memory of my mother, Pat Bell (1928-2004), who died after a short illness while these pages were being prepared. She was always supportive of and enthusiastic about the work I do and, despite being disabled by severe rheumatoid arthritis, travelled with me to visit colleagues at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington and observed the total eclipses of the Sun in Antigua (1998), Cornwall (1999) and Zambia (2001). She will be greatly missed.

SAB

Introduction

We present an observational overview of the transits of Venus in the telescopic era as well as the six centuries or so at either end of this period. The table below gives the dates of these rare phenomena covering the interval from the 11th century through to the 27th century. More detailed information can be found on a specific event by following the appropriate link in the table below. Transits with links in pale yellow boxes have more detailed information than those in magenta boxes. The dates given in the table are Julian dates before 1582 AD and Gregorian dates thereafter.

Transit Data

Calendar date of Transit
    1032 May 24 1040 May 22
1145 November 26* 1153 November 23-24 1275 May 25-26 1283 May 23
1388 November 26* 1396 November 23 1518 May 25-26 1526 May 23
1631 December 7 1639 December 4 1761 June 6 1769 June 3-4
1874 December 9 1882 December 6 2004 June 8 2012 June 5-6
2117 December 11 2125 December 8 2247 June 11 2255 June 9
2360 December 12-13 2368 December 10 2490 June 12 2498 June 10
2603 December 15-16 2611 December 13

*Although the two inferior conjunctions of 1145 November 26th and 1388 November 26th do fit the pattern for the recurrence of transits of Venus, the minimum separation between the centres of the solar disc and Venus is larger than the sum of the semi-diameters of the Sun and Venus rendering a geocentric transit impossible.

Other Information

red arrow Observations of the 2004 transit of Venus were made at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. If you want to see what happened, you can find out here.
red arrow If you wish to generate your own predictions for the 2004 transit, the Astronomical Applications Department of the US Naval Observatory has produced an online Transit of Venus Computer.
red arrow Some background to the cyclical nature of the transits of Venus is provided.
red arrow You can return to the main HMNAO pages.

ExclamationSafety first - Observing the Sun

Observing the Sun is potentially very dangerous unless you know what you are doing. Unlike a total eclipse of the Sun, there is no phase of totality during a transit of Venus. The drop in light from the passage of Venus in front the Sun is negligible, amounting to a mere 0.1%.

Never look directly at the Sun with the naked eye. There are no pain receptors in the retina and irreparable damage to the eye or even blindness caused by observing the Sun without adequate protection can be done with only a few seconds of exposure. The effects of this damage will only become apparent several hours later.

Always use proper certified filters to protect your eyes. Solar eclipse viewers with a neutral density of 5 or more, made of black polymer or aluminised mylar may be used. Such viewers reduce the harmful visual and infra-red radiation to safe levels. In the European Community, the viewers should carry the "CE" mark denoting certification under Personal Protective Equipment Regulations (European Council Directive 89/686/EEC). They should also be checked thoroughly for damage. When putting the viewer on or taking it off, remember to turn away from the Sun.

Never look directly at the Sun through telescopes or binoculars or similar optical devices. If a telescope or binoculars are used then the projection method can be adopted using two pieces of card. The first piece of card casts a shadow behind the telescope. The image of the Sun is then projected onto the second piece of card which lies in the shadow of the first. This allows several people to view the transit. Never sight along the side of the telescope to point it at the Sun.

DISCLAIMER: Neither CCLRC, its employees nor anyone else involved in the creation or production of this material shall be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental damages arising out of the use, the results of use, or inability to use this material even if CCLRC has been advised of the possibility of such damages or claim.

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HM Nautical Almanac Office
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
E-mail: hmnao@nao.rl.ac.uk
Last revision was made on 2004 June 10

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