At the risk of sounding very geeky l found myself glad to watch the Transit of Venus on NASA live wire links at the end of a very long Jubilee bank holiday weekend. This was truely a once in a century event as the next time Venus comes between Earth and the Sun is over a 100 years time. In my view a very different league in comparison with a 60th diamond jubilee celebration. As l’m pretty sure we’ll be celebrating another Jubilee celebration in a decade’s time, such is the health of the Queen!
Very unfortunately because of the weather and light pollution on the London skyline, we don’t often see the stars let alone Venus. Many of us only seeing the stars at night when on holiday somewhere else in the world. Thats why l was sad to see the lose of London planetarium along Marylebone Rd in 2006. It closed to become part of the Madame Tussaud’s empire next door to house its “star dome” show and so one could say the Planetarium got elipsed by the star culture prevalent today!
It was the inspiration of generations of school children to study astronomy as stargazing is not possibly in London, so the Planetarium was the next best thing and in someways much better.
As a result it will be difficult for many to understand what inspired Captain Cook on his first vogage of discovery on the scientific expedition to the Pacific to study and observe the 1769 transit of venus across the sun to enable the measurement of the distance from the Earth to the Sun. The scientific voyage was of course combined with a confidential mission to search the south Pacific for signs of the “unknown southern land” continent, but there is no taking away from its scientific significance.
I understand we now only have one planetarium in London thats the Peter Harrison planetarium in Greenwich, South-East London. I wish it much success but there is no substitute to one in Central London as well.