Friday, 17 August 2007

Report from Astronomical Society

Jeremiah Horrocks makes the first observation of the Transit of Venus in 1639

In 1882 James McKerrow observed the trasit of Venus, and in 1885 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Astromnomical Society.

Here is the report on the eclipse.

Since this was New Zealand's only total solar eclipse a glance at reports from other parts of the country may be of interest.
No one would have blamed Wellington observers for going elsewhere to observe the eclipse but as it turned out they would have done better to have stayed at home. At Wellington the dark shadow of totality was seen rushing toward the city and then came the "beautiful flood of white light which surrounded the moon". Coronal rays extending for from two to three solar diameters were seen, as well as a large red prominence "conspicuous on the right". The weather was described as "most favourable in a southerly gale".
Wellington observers who moved closer to the central line of eclipse, however, did not see as much. Dr Hector (after whom the Dominion Observatory was formerly named), together with Archdeacon Stock (who had predicted the end of the world from the comet of 1883) and Messrs Adams (later Dr Adams, the Dominion's first professional astronomer), McKerrow, Humphries, Travers and Beverley went to Masterton, selecting sites on Rangitumau and Otahiaho hills. They saw the eclipse through a watery sky which dimmed its beauty. Bailey's Beads were seen, as well as coronal rays extending only half a solar diameter from the sun's limb. Mr Humphries got good photographs of the beads, corona and prominences.

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