Donnerstag, 28. Juni 2012

Welcome Elycia...

Wir haben Zuwachs am Mont Fanal, und diesmal handelt es sich nicht um einen kleinen Welpen, sondern um unsere kleine Nachbarin Elycia, die am 19.Juni gegen 22 Uhr geboren wurde.Hier ist sie keine 2 Tage alt. Den frischgebackenen Eltern Warren und Elisa wünschen wir alles Gute mit der kleinen Maus!-

New offspring at Mont Fanal and this time it is not a little puppy but a little baby girl. Elycia is her name and our new neighbour was born on 19th of June at about 10pm.Here she was already back from hospital, not even 2 days old. All the best to her and her parents Warren and Elisa!

This was supposed to be posted already last week but we had no Internet at all, I have to do a lot of catching up...

Donnerstag, 14. Juni 2012


Liebe Valérie,
Manchmal sieht es so aus, als ginge nichts weiter. Manchmal gibt es Rückschritte. Manchmal wird die Hoffnung überschattet durch Umstände, die schwer überwindbar erscheinen. Ich habe etwas überlegen müssen, welchen Kuchen ich heute auswähle, nachdem ich gerade erfahren habe, dass es dir seit Dienstag schlecht geht.Du hast Fieber und kannst nicht sprechen und essen. Ich wünsche so sehr , dass sich die zarte Leichtigkeit der Schmetterlinge auf deinem Kuchen zu dir überträgt um den Druck in deinem Kopf zu lindern. Valérie, kämpfe weiter, gib nicht auf. Wir hören nicht auf für dich zu beten und daran zu glauben, dass du es schaffen kannst. Es ist schwer zu wissen, dass du gerade so sehr leidest.Wir denken stärker denn je an dich!

Chère Valérie,
Il y a des moments quand on ne voit pas où le chemin mène. Il y a des pas en arrière. Il y a l’espoir qui peut se montrer ombragé par des conditions qui semblent difficilement à surmonter. Après j’ai appris que tu vas mal depuis mardi, j’ai du réflechir un peu avant choisir le gâteau pour aujourd’hui. Tu as de la fièvre et tu ne peux ni parler ni manger.Je souhaite tellement que la légèreté douce et tendre des papillons sur ton gâteau va se transmettre jusqu’à toi pour diminuer la pression dans ta tête. Valérie, continue de te battre, ne t’abandonne pas. Nous continuons de prier pour toi en croyant que tu puisses t’en sortir. On ne veut pas que tu souffres. On t’aime, mais cela tu sais. Et on va penser plus fort que jamais à toi!
Dear Valerie,
Sometimes things look bad. Sometimes there are setbacks. Sometimes hope is overshadowed by circumstances that seem difficult to overcome. After I have learned hat you are not doing well since Tuesday I had to think a little what kind of cake to choose for  today. You do suffer from a fever and you can't eat and talk. I wish so much that the delicate and tender lightness of the butterflies on your cake will fly over to you in order to relieve the pressure in your head. Valérie, continue to fight, do not give up. We do not stop praying for you and we believe that you can do it. It's hard to know that you are suffering so much at the moment. We think of you more than ever!

Album sur picasa pour Valérie
- Contact me if you want to leave greetings and a cake for Valérie too, I will be pleased to add it to the album -

Sonntag, 10. Juni 2012

A Moment of Beauty and Peace....Sonnenuntergang in Port Mathurin

Dieser Sonnenuntergang ist nicht von heute, sondern schon vom 01.Juni, aufgenommen im Hafen von Port Mathurin vom Boot S/Y SAl DARAGO der Weltumsegler Jeremy und Kathy Spencer, die so liebenswürdig waren mir dieses Foto für den Blog zur Verfügung zu stellen.Sie haben mir noch andere Fotos von einem Ausflug hier mitgebracht, die kommen später...-

This spectacular sunset has not been taken today but already on 01 June in the harbour of Port Mathurin from sailing boat S/Y SAL DARAGO of Jeremy and Kathy Spencer from England who were so kind to share it here on the blog. They left also a whole set of other photos from an excursion here which I will post later...

- 1000 thanks to Kathy & Jeremy -

Samstag, 9. Juni 2012

Bonne chance aujourd'hui, Valerie!

 Not a cake from Valérie but with all good wishes for today

Heute um 13.30 mauritische Zeit wird Valérie noch einmal operiert. 
Alles Gute, Valérie, alle Freunde denken an dich!

Aujourd-hui Valérie a son opération à 13.30h. 
Tous tes amis te souhaitent le mieux pour cet épreuve. Nous pensons très fort à toi, Valérie!

Today Valérie will be operated again at 1.30 pm Mauritian time.
All friends are crossing their fingers for you, Valérie. You are not alone!

And here the news:
The operation took about 3 hours and went well. Valérie was conscious in the afternoon. She will be at least for 2 days in the Intensive Care Unit, and when everything goes well, she will then be transferred to a room where she can have visits of her family during the day.

Album sur picasa pour Valérie
- Contact me if you want to leave greetings and a cake for Valérie too, I will be pleased to add it to the album -

Freitag, 8. Juni 2012

Transit of Venus.....Greetings from a black dot

 Kansas City


Another one from Kathmandu

 New York

And another one from New York

 Salt Lake City





And here 
my favourites

from the Taj Mahal

Transit views from South Korea


See you again in 2117.

- All photos found here -

Donnerstag, 7. Juni 2012

Rodrigues and the Transit of Venus 2012

Ein paar Tage vor dem Transit der Venus gab es im Schildkrötenpark in Anse Quitor eine ganz besondere Einstimmung...-
Some days prior to the transit event a special warming up activity took place in the Reserve Francois Leguat...

Schulklassen und andere Neugierige konnten sich mit einem Teleskop vertraut machen...-
School classes and other curious folks could get familiar with a telescope....

Und bekamen auch eine Einführung in die Geschichte...-
And got an introduction related to Rodrigues' history of the Transit of Venus...

Anse Quitor beherbergt nicht nur Schildkröten und Höhlen, sondern auch ein kleines Museum, wo versucht wird, neben Fossilfunden auch alle schriftlichen historischen Dokumente zu Rodrigues zu sammeln...-

Anse Quitor is not only home to giant tortoises and caves, it has also got a small museum. Beside fossils of the extinct tortoises one can find also historical documents about Rodrigues. The objective of the museum is to collect as many documents as possible to make especially Rodriguans aware of  their history.

Dazu gehören auch Schriften über die Transit Expedition von Pingré.-
Including documents about the Transit of Venus expedition to Rodrigues of Pingré.

Und auch die Aufklärung darüber, dass Pingrés Büste in Rodrigues in Wirklichkeit gar nicht Pingré zeigt, sondern einen gewissen Claude de Molinet (1620-1687)...-

And the enlightening information that the sculpture looking from Pointe Canon does not show Pingré at all as everybody believes, in fact it is a certain Claude de Molinet from one century before who sits comfortably on the statue...

Alle Fotos oben sind von Brice Allenbrand, der sein Wissen in den letzten Tagen so vielen zur Verfügung gestellt hat und der übrigens auf Rodrigues gerne ein Observatorium eröffnen möchte. Ich hätte ihm etwas mehr Glück mit dem Wetter für den Transit der Venus hier gewünscht. Es war nicht nur bewölkt, sondern auch windig mit vielen Schauern, Ausläufer eines späten tropischen Tiefdrucksystems in Agalega (NW) und einem Antizyklon im Süden von Rodrigues.-

All pics above were taken by Brice Allenbrand, who has not only shared his knowledge in astronomy and Rodrigues' specific history with it during the recent days, on this occasion it should also be mentioned that he would like to open an observatory on our island one day. I had wished him more luck with the weather during the transit of Venus. It has not only been cloudy but also very windy with lots of showers due to a late tropical storm in Agalega (NW) and a strong anticyclone in the south of Rodrigues.

At least in Mauritius the Transit of Venus was visible...


Dienstag, 5. Juni 2012

Chasing the Venus....Pingré in Rodrigues

" enlightening chronicle of the first truly international scientific endeavor—the eighteenth-century quest to observe the transit of Venus and measure the solar system.

On June 6, 1761, the world paused to observe a momentous occasion: the first transit of Venus between the earth and the sun in more than a century. Through that observation, astronomers could calculate the size of the solar system—but only if they could compile data from many different points of the globe, all recorded during the short period of the transit. Overcoming incredible odds and political strife, astronomers from Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Sweden, and the American colonies set up observatories in remote corners of the world, only to have their efforts thwarted by unpredictable weather and warring armies. Fortunately, transits of Venus occur in pairs: eight years later, the scientists would have another opportunity to succeed. "(Book)

"In November 1760 two French astronomers set out from Paris to view the transit of Venus from far-flung destinations: thirty-eight-year-old Jean-Baptiste Chappe d’Auteroche began his 4,000-mile journey to Tobolsk in Siberia and forty-eight-year-old Alexandre-Gui Pingré to Rodrigues, a small island in the Indian Ocean not far from Mauritius.

Both were regarded as ‘worthy’ of the honour and the ‘perfect’ candidates for the appointment – or so at least the members of the Académie des Sciences thought. They were certainly brilliant astronomers, but also corpulent and middle-aged – not exactly the epitome of dashing adventurers but they were ready to face the dangers of the long voyages.

Pingré, however, had some second thoughts on the evening before of his departure. The appointment had first ‘extremely flattered’ him, but now his friends’ warnings began to trouble him. They were ‘the first to be frightened about his fate’, Pingré noted in his diary, and therefore tried to convince him that his life was in danger. Suddenly he saw the voyage through different eyes: instead of fame and honour, death and disease might loom. With the whole of Europe in the midst of the Seven Years War, Pingré was risking ‘my liberty, my health, and even my life’.

Despite his worries, Pingré left Paris to catch a boat from Lorient – the headquarters of the Compagnie des Indes – on the coast of Brittany, while Chappe made his way across Europe. From the beginning their journeys were riddled with problems. Only a week after Chappe had departed from Paris, his carriage was already beyond repair. He had to purchase a new one as well as replace his thermometers and barometers which had been damaged in accidents – though luckily his telescopes emerged intact. Meanwhile Pingré was stuck in Lorient where the local agents of the Compagnie complained that he had brought a rather excessive amount of luggage. Outraged, Pingré argued that 700 to 800 pounds of luggage was nothing unusual for an astronomer – they were certainly not travelling lightly."(source)

Some vessels with astronomers on their way to their destination were attacked by war ships, this also happened to Pingré on 10 January 1761, and there were more challenges..

"In early April 1761, just after rounding the Cape of Good Hope, Alexandre–Gui Pingré’s ship met a damaged French supply vessel that had been attacked by the British. Packed to the brim with provisions from the Cape for Mauritius the captain ordered Pingré’s vessel to accompany and protect them. Instead of sailing to Rodrigues where he had been ordered to view the transit on 6 June 1761, Pingré was now forced to go to Mauritius where he disembarked on 7 May.

It was still possible to reach Rodrigues in time – an eight-day journey and no more, one captain had told Pingré. However, squalls and high waves had slowed them down first, then a lull. The days were ticking by and the frenzied race had come to a standstill. On 26 May, Pingré finally saw Rodrigues in the distance – a sight ‘that filled me with such satisfaction as I haven’t felt since my departure from France’, he cried, but there was still no wind. He was now, Pingré believed, in the hands of God and the captain. ‘The calm continued on the sea, in the air and in the spirit of M. Thullier [his assistant]’, he wrote in his journal, ‘but certainly not in mine’.

It had been on the way from Mauritius to Rodrigues that he observed on 18 May 1761 the lunar eclipse – one of the celestial encounters by which the astronomers would be able to determine their exact geographical position which was essential in order to use the transit data. This one was one of the rare total lunar eclipse during which the moon became completely invisible. As the earth slowly moved between the sun and the moon, its shadow hiding the moon, many astronomers pointed their telescopes to the night sky, Pingré watched from the deck of the vessel."(source).

"Then, on 28 May, only seven days before the transit, Pingré finally set foot on the ‘desired island’. There was no town or fort on Rodrigues. The only reason the Compagnie des Indes kept the island was for its large turtle population. Regarded as a remedy against scurvy, the turtles were collected and kept in an enclosure and every two or three months dispatched to Mauritius. The governor of Rodrigues, Pingré snobbishly noted, lived only in a small log cabin made of roughly hewn timber and mud. Pingré and his assistant had to sleep in a shed with a dirt floor beside this governor’s ‘residence’.

‘We had no time to lose’, Pingré wrote. He found a location in the north of the island from where to view the transit, but it was too late to build a proper observatory. Instead he placed some big boulders in a circle and constructed a small hut to house the instruments. It was so crudely built that it gave little protection from wind, dust and animals. The instruments had already suffered from the long sea voyage with some ‘eaten by rust’, Pingré moaned, hectically polishing and greasing them with turtle oil, the only lubricant available. Over the next days, the French astronomer prepared his instruments and observed the movements of Jupiter’s satellites at night in order to set the clock – an enterprise that was sabotaged by the rats that chewed through one of the pendulums. He only had a few days to the transit."(source)

Triangulation on Rodriguez Island, from the Illustrated London News, 24 October 1874.source

To make things very short, Pingrés transit observation was doomed also by the weather and in some encyclopedias it was simply tagged as unsuccessful.

" On the fateful 6th of June the weather was generally unfavourable. At 5.30 am, the wind, which had blown hard during the night, calmed down somewhat, but there was a heavy cloud in the east, and a quarter of an hour later the sky was almost completely overcast. At the crucial time, between 8.00am and 8.30 am the clouds cleared sufficiently for observations to be made but the wind rose so strong, that Pingré was as much troubled by it as by the clouds with the result that the observation was far from satisfactory.Pingré made his observation "dans l'enfoncement de Francois Leguat", probably on the hill of the East to it."  (Source: North-Coombes)

A living Domed Rodrigues Giant Tortoise (Cylindraspis peltastes) depicted by Jossigny in c. 1770. 

Maybe he could not contribute with much related to the Transit of Venus itself but his account of the 3 and a half months in Rodrigues has proved valuable in many respects. First of all his second objective of his voyage to Rodrigues. He was determined to draw a map and so with his assistant he set out on several occasions taking angles in order to determine latitude and longitude. Lack of time and the capture of the island by the British Navy prevented Pingré, who was said not to aim much at accuracy, from drawing a more accurate map than he actually did. However, his Rodrigues manuscript was voluminous, containing, beside meteorological observations, a 100 pages alone of the island's capture.And we learn that during his visit Rodrigues had just a handful inhabitants, "a surgeon and a corporal in charge of a dozen slaves who were engaged in collecting tortoises for shipment to Isle de France." In 1761, Abbé Pingré wrote:

"The tortoise is not a pretty animal, but it was the most useful of those we found at Rodrigues. In the three and a half months that I spend on the island, we ate almost nothing else: tortoise soup, fried tortoise, stewed tortoise, tortoise forcemeat, tortoise eggs, tortoise liver - these were pretty much our only savouries. This meat seemed to me as good on the last day as on the first; I did not eat many of the eggs; the liver seemed to me the most delicious part of the animal. After five weeks stay I was attacked by dysentery which I kept secret, because I counted more on myself to heal it than the island's surgeon. Diet and rest put me right in a few days, but it left me with an extraordinary involuntary repugnance for this liver that I had so liked until then. Should I thus regard it as the cause of my indisposition?. . .Tortoise fat is very abundant and does not congeal; it is what is known as tortoise oil. This oil had no bad taste, it is very healthy, and we seasoned our salads with it, used it in frying and all our sauces. Rodrigues tortoises are foot and a half long and bout a foot across; they were formerly large, but they are no longer given time to grow. When a bigger one is found, it is called a carrosse. These carrosses cannot harm a waken man, though they have sometimes bitten sleepers hard. The shells of these tortoises served us like baskets to carry oysters and similar provisions. The flesh of these tortoises is the colour of mutton, and approaches it for taste." (Pingré, 1763; Cheke and Hume, 2008, found here).

Pingré mentioned not only the tortoises which at his time were still more or less abundant but also that other species mentioned by Leguat about 70 years earlier were not anymore to be seen, like the Rodrigues Night Heron.

As to the second part of the Transit of Venus pair, Pingré was more successful.
"More satisfactory results were obtained from an expedition to the French Cape on Haiti where the next transit was observed on 3 June, 1769."(source)
Monument of Pingré in Rodrigues

The next Transit of Venus took place in 1874, and it was again observed by scientists sent to the island, this pic was sent to me by Brice, unfortunately without source

"Not far from Port Mathurin on Rodrigues, on a site where the old Fort Duncan was loacted, Charles B. Neate erected his observatory huts. The transit hut was enclosed by a large stone wall to protect it against hurricanes. On the morning of the transit, the observatory was surrounded by policemen and no one was allowed to approach. Neate observed with the 6-inch equatorial. At both ingress and egress the black drop was very apparent. Today, there is a plaque commemorating the event (with the wrong year 1894), attached to a large concrete block."

The transit hut at Point Venus, surrounded by a wall to protect the hut against hurricanes. (Picture courtesy of National Maritime Museum, London) 

The scene as it is today with the concrete block and plaque commemorating the event. 
Photo:Deva Ramasawmy, 2009
Tomorrow between 6.20 am and 8.00 am the Transit of Venus can hopefully be observed again in Rodrigues.


- Alexandre Guy Pingré/ New Advent Encyclopedia

Wenn die Venus sich vor die Sonne schiebt...When Venus moves across the sun....

Transit der Venus 08.06.2004 Connally's Springs in North Carolina
Photo: David Cortner, gefunden hier

Eines der seltensten astronomischen Ereignisse der Menschheitsgeschichte wird heute und morgen  stattfinden, der Transit der Venus.Nur 6 Venus Transits wurden in den letzten 400 Jahren beobachtet, und wer diesmal nicht gucken kann, hat keine Chance mehr, es in seinem Leben zu tun, denn der nächste Transit findet erst wieder 2117 statt.
Der Transit tritt auf, wenn sich die Venus direkt zwischen Erde und Sonne bewegt, ein Ereignis, das weniger als einmal im Jahrhundert passiert. Es findet in Paaren statt, die 8 Jahre auseinander liegen (das erste dieses Paares war im Jahr 2004).
Der Transit der Venus hilft Wissenschaftlern mehr über Planeten weit außerhalb unseres Sonnensystems zu erfahren. Die Astronomen, die die Transits von 1874 und 1882 observiert haben, waren in der Lage die Distanz von der Erde zur Sonne bis auf 1 % ihres tatsächlichen Wertes genau zu bestimmen. -

The transit of Venus across the sun is one of the rarest celestial events ever witnessed in human history. Only six Venus transits have been observed in the last 400 years, and if you miss this one, you're out of luck. The next transit of Venus occurs in the year 2117.
The transit occurs when Venus moves directly between the Earth and sun, an event that happens less than once a century. It takes place in pairs eight years apart (the first in this pair was in 2004)
The Venus rare journey will help scientists learn more about planets far beyond our solar system
Astronomers who watched the 1874 and 1882 transits were able to determine the distance from the Earth to the sun to within 1 percent of its actual value.
The last transit of Venus in front of the sun in 2004.
Photograph: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

Ein kleiner schwarzer Punkt wird das Gesicht der Sonne in ganz Europa verschönern, wenn sie am Mittwoch aufgeht, und Venus ihre seltene und historische Reise quer durch die brennende Scheibe unseres Muttergestirns antritt.

Der Start des Transits wird sichtbar sein in Nord-und Zentralamerika und den nord-westlichen Ländern Südamerikas. Teile Asiens und Australiens werden die ganze Show sehen.

In früheren Jahrhunderten schickten Nationen ganze Heerscharen von Astronomen in ihre entferntesten Gebieten, um die Reise des Transits zu dokumentieren.Es war die erste weltweite wissenschaftliche Zusammenarbeit in der Geschichte überhaupt und beantwortete die dringende Frage nach der Größe des Sonnensystems.-

A small black dot will grace the face of the sun as it rises (over Europe) on Wednesday, when Venus makes a rare and historic journey across the burning disc of our parent star.

The start of the transit will be visible from North and Central America and the north-western countries of South America. Parts of Asia and Australia will see the entire show.

In previous centuries, nations dispatched astronomers to their farthest territories to record the transit in progress. In doing so, they embarked on the first global scientific collaboration in history and answered the pressing question of the size of the solar system.

This photo was taken on 6 December 1882 by the photographers of the American expedition stationed at Cedar Keys, Florida. Of the hundreds of photographic plates exposed by the eight American transit expeditions, only eleven from Florida have survived. Taking pictures of the transit was almost a military operation, the photographic apparatus a huge construction.

Die ersten Beobachtungen eines Venus-Transit kam von Jeremiah Horrocks in Much Hoole, einem winzigen Dorf in Lancashire. Am 24. November 1639 beobachtete Horrocks als der Planet die Sonne durchquert, durch ein kleines Teleskop auf ein Blatt Papier projiziert.

Die wissenschaftliche Bedeutung des Transits wurde von Edmund Halley deutlich gemacht , dem zweiten britischen königlichem Astronom, er rief bereits im Jahre 1716 Nationen auf, Kraäfte zu bündeln und dieses Ereignis von allen geografischen Positionen auf der Welt zu dokumentieren um den Abstand von unserem Planeten zur Sonne zu berechnen, und somit die Größe des Sonnensystems zu erarbeiten.

Halleyschen Essay war visionär, geschrieben fast 50 Jahren, bevor der nächste Transit im Jahr 1761 stattfinden würde. Zu dieser Zeit wussten die Astronomen nur relative Entfernungen im Sonnensystem, zum Beispiel, dass Jupiter fünfmal weiter von der Sonne als die Erde entfernt war. "Sie kannten nicht die Entfernung der Erde zur Sonne, eine Basiseinheit Es war wie eine Karte ohne Maßstab", sagt Andrea Wulf, Autorin des Buches Chasing Venus: the Race to Measure the Heavens.(2012) -

The first observations of a transit of Venus came from Jeremiah Horrocks in Much Hoole, a tiny village in Lancashire. On 24 November 1639, Horrocks watched as the planet traversed the sun after projecting its image on to a sheet of paper through a small telescope.

The scientific importance of the transit was made clear by Edmund Halley, Britain's second astronomer royal, who in 1716 called on nations to join forces and record the event from positions around the world. Timing the transit from different spots on Earth allowed astronomers to calculate the distance from our planet to the sun, and so work out the size of the solar system.

Halley's essay was visionary, written nearly 50 years before the next transit was due in 1761. At the time, astronomers knew only relative distances in the solar system, for example, that Jupiter was five times further from the sun than Earth. Their best estimate of how far Earth lay from its star was 55m miles. "They didn't know the distance from Earth to the sun, and that was a base unit. It was like having a map without the scale," said Andrea Wulf, author of the 2012 book Chasing Venus: the Race to Measure the Heavens.

"Was war so anders war, dass keine Beobachtung alleine funktionieren würde, sie mussten gepaart werden. Soviele Astronomen wie möglich mussten an soweit entfernt und auseinder liegende Orte wie möglich gesendet werden", sagte Wulf. "Das war das erste wirklich globale internationale Zusammenarbeit, die die Grundlagen der modernen Wissenschaft legt."

Der Weg, den die Venus über das Gesicht der Sonne macht, variiert je nachdem von wo aus der Transit gesehen wird. Die Halleysche Methode benötigte Paare von Astronomen, einen bekannten Abstand für die Zeit des Beginns und des Ende des Transits. Zusammengenommen ermöglichten diese Zahlen, die Trennung von Erde und Sonne mit Hilfe der Trigonometrie zu berechnen.

Die Briten schickten James Cook auf der Endeavour um den Transit von Tahiti aus zu beobachten, seine Mannschaft verliebte sich dermaßen in die Einheimischen, dass sie nur flüchtige Notizen über den Transit selbst machten. Andere erging es schlimmer. Dem französischen Astronom Guillaume Le Gentil wurde die Einreise nach Pondicherry verweigert zum ersten Transit 1761 und so sah er hoffnungslos vom Meer aus zu (nicht unweit von Pingré). Er blieb in der Gegend um den zweiten Transit im Jahre 1769 zu beobachten, nur dass Wolken seine Sicht verschleierten. Nach Hause zurückgekehrt, entdeckte er, dass er zwischenzeitlich seine Anstellung und sein Anwesen verloren hatte, seine Erben hatten in für tot gehalten und es aufgeteilt.

Der Halleysche Plan war ein Erfolg trotz der Strapazen derer, die auszogen, um den Transit zu beobachten. Die Astronomen teilten ihre Aufzeichnungen und kamen schließlich zu einem neuen Maß für die Entfernung zwischen Erde und der Sonne von 93m bis 97m Meilen. Heute ist die akzeptierte Entfernung 92.96m Meilen (149.6 Mio. km).-

"What was so different was that no observation on its own would work, they had to be paired up. You had to send astronomers to as many, and as far apart, places as possible," said Wulf. "This was the first truly global international collaboration which lays the foundations of modern science."

The path Venus takes across the face of the sun varies depending on where the transit is viewed from. Halley's method called for pairs of astronomers a known distance apart to time the start and end of the transit. Taken together, the astronomers used these figures to calculate the separation of the Earth and sun using trigonometry.

The British sent James Cook on the Endeavour to witness the transit from Tahiti, where his crew became so enamoured with the locals they made only cursory notes on the event. Others fared worse. The French astronomer Guillaume le Gentil was barred entry to Pondicherry for the first transit and watched hopelessly from sea. He stayed in the area to watch the second transit in 1769, only for clouds to obscure his view. On returning home, he discovered he had lost his job, and his heirs had divided up his estate, giving him up for dead.

Halley's plan was a success despite the hardships of those who set out to observe the transit. The astronomers shared their records and eventually arrived at a new measurement for the distance between Earth and the sun of 93m to 97m miles. Today, the accepted distance is 92.96m miles.


When does it happen?
The last transit of Venus of the 21st century occurs on 5 and 6 June 2012 depending on where you are viewing from.
How long does the transit last?
Venus takes nearly seven hours to cross the face of the sun, but the event is divided into four "contacts" that mark different phases of the transit. Venus makes first contact when it encroaches onto the disc of the sun. Twenty minutes later, on second contact, the planet will be fully silhouetted. On third contact, at 5.37am BST, Venus will beginto leave the sun, and the transit will be over on fourth contact at 5.55am BST. (Time UK)

Where can I see it?
The whole transit is visible from Alaska, and parts of northern Canada, and from New Zealand, much of Australia, Asia and Russia. In the US, the transit will be in progress as the sun sets on 5 June. In East Africa, Europe and Scandivia, the transit will be under way as the sun rises on 6 June. Much of South America and western Africa will not see the event.
How can I watch it safely?
Never look directly at the sun, it will damage your eyes. You can use eclipse viewing glasses that carry a CE mark and are not damaged or worn, but only for a few minutes at a time. Venus is large enough to see with the naked eye and will appear as a spot about 1/32 the width of the sun. It is not safe to look at the sun through regular sunglasses. For a better view, use a small telescope or a pair of binoculars to project an image of the sun on to a screen.
Can I watch online?
Nasa will broadcast a live webcast of the transit from the Mauna Kea Observatories in Hawaii.

In Rodrigues it will hopefully be visible tomorrow morning from 6.20 to 8.00 am.