An account of the observation of Venus upon the sun...

Benjamin West

The Transit of Venus--when Venus can be observed passing between the Earth and the Sun--is one of the rarer astronomical phenomena, and one critical to the first accurate calculations of the distance between planets in our solar system. In 1769, astronomical expeditions traveled to the far reaches of the globe to observe the transit and contribute to the calculation effort. In North America this included a team in Providence, Rhode Island, headed by Benjamin West, astronomer, publisher of almanacs, and later professor of mathematics and astronomy at what would become Brown University. Also involved was Joseph Brown (John Carter Brown’s great uncle), who purchased the telescope used by the team. The Library holds Joseph Brown’s copy of the account published by West (printed by John Carter, grandfather of John Carter Brown)--just one example of our remarkable resources for the history of science in the early Americas (and the universe).

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