The person interviewed later that day on BBC Radio 4 who said he was not interested in a dot crossing the sun might have been astonished at the vast numbers who turned up at the Royal Observatory Greenwich on Tuesday 8 June to witness the 'Transit of Venus'.


 At ten minutes to 6 on a beautiful, sunny morning there was a traffic jam at the Blackheath Gates while the person on the gate decided who amongst the two queues consisting of TV vans, journalists and members of the public he would allow in.


 Members of the Flamsteed Astronomy Society were already inside helping staff of the Observatory setting up telescopes in the courtyard. The BBC had set up the night before, closing off the area around General Wolfe's statue and bringing in a myriad of vehicles including a mobile catering unit and crew bus. Cables lay everywhere.


 As soon as the telescopes were set up, the public queued to see through them. Size seemed to matter as the longest queues were for the largest telescopes. As a result, David Waugh was kept very busy from the beginning, wielding a large black cloth to keep the light out and wrestling with thermal currents from the heat of the day affecting the image.


  At 6.20am, Stan, Lesley and Jane readied themselves with the Coronado telescope to measure the time it took between the disc of Venus first entering the edge of the Sun and resolving into a clear dot on the face of the Sun.  Calculations completed, a queue immediately formed for the Coronado and stayed like that for the next six hours. The members of the public waiting in line were patient and good natured despite the temperatures reaching 32 degC on the hottest day of the year to date. The queues even followed the relocation of the telescope to the garden courtyard.

Ian, Eddie & Mike set up a telescope at the start of the day.   Anton Vamplew walks by

Lesley and Jane timing the first part of the Transit using the Coronado.  The queue for David’s telescope is already growing in the background

The BBC set for ‘Stardate: Transit of Venus’.  Adam Hart-Davis on the right in blue shirt

“Yes dear.  You really did see the Transit of Venus in 2004!”


The school kids queuing may remember.



Flamsteed Astronomy Society

Transit of Venus - FAS Report & Pictures

by Michael Bradley                            vc03

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