SE Newsletter January 1999

Atmosphere Venus

From: [email protected] To: [email protected] Subject: Re: December Solar Eclipse Calendar

Dear Patrick: I think you should not try to include occultations, lunar eclipses etc. in your calendar. There is a lot already to tell. By the way we are working on a paper analyzing the so-called eclipse of the Cruxifiction and found it very interesting to accurately make the dating based on accurate computations. This is now rather easy thanks to PC computers... Best, Serge

PS I thought that the 1st report on the atmosphere of Venus was made by Lomonosov observing the occultation with the Solar limb...I saw some rather convincing drawings in the State Astron. Inst-te (GAISH) in Moscow (which is also a part of the State Lomonossov University...Regarding some recent really good work done recently on the historical records relevant to to Astronomy may I point out to a big book issued by the famous Mitterand Nat. Biblioth. in Paris, under Luminet and LachiezeRay Ed. (exhibition open until Jan.5). The books cost 290FF but it is worth 10 times more (please, keep this info confidential).

From: "R.Gulyaev" [email protected] To: mailto:[email protected] Subject: eclipse calendar

Dear Dr. Poitevin, In the Solar Eclipse Calendar for December you have written: "December 06, 1882: The atmosphere of Venus is detected for the first time". This is mistake. For the first time, the atmosphere of Venus was detected by Michael Lomonosov during the Venus transit on June 06, 1761. Best regards, Rudolf Gulyaev

From: "Eli Maor" [email protected] To: Multiple recipients of list [email protected] Subject: Two comments re the Dec. Eclipse Calendar

Hi eclipsees, May I comment on two events reported in the December Solar Eclipse Calendar:

1. The Dec. 6, 1631 transit of Venus was indeed predicted by Kepler, but as far as is known, no one has actually observed it. Pierre Gassendi in France, who had watched the transit of Mercury exactly a month earlier (the first known observation of any transit), tried but failed to watch the Venus transit. Richard Proctor, in his classic work "The Transits of Venus," showed that this transit took place on the night between the 6th and 7th and was visible mainly in the Western hemisphere, although egress possibly was visible from southeast Europe. The first transit of Venus actually observed was that of Dec. 4, 1639, which, amazingly, Kepler had failed to predict (although he did predict the next transit on June 6, 1761). It was observed by just two people - Jerremiah Horrocks near Liverpool, who left us with a moving account of the event, and his friend William Crabtree, near Manchester. Considering the place, date and time - late in the afternoon during midwinter in cloudy England - they were extremely lucky.

The atmosphere of Venus was actually detected during the transit of June 6, 1761. The Russian Mikhail Vasilievitch Lomonosov, observing from St. Petersburg, saw a faint luminous ring around Venus' black image just as it entered the sun's face, and again at egress. He correctly interpreted this as due to an atmosphere around Venus (he even predicted it might be thicker than Earth's). His report was published in Russia but became known in the West only 150 years later. These historic events are described in my forthcoming book "June 8, 2004," to be published next year by Princeton University Press. With best wishes for a prosperous and peaceful 1999, Eli Maor

From: [email protected] To: Multiple recipients of list [email protected] Subject: Re: Two comments re the Dec. Eclipse Calendar

Please put me on your list to purchase the book on the transit. Thanks! Dan McGlaun PO Box 51511 Indianapolis IN 46251

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