Measuring the Universe: from the transit of Venus to the edge of the cosmos
In June 2012 stargazers will flock to prime locations around the world to see the Transit of Venus – the next one will not occur for another 105 years.
Transits take place only when Venus passes directly between the Earth and the Sun, appearing as tiny black dot against the bright solar disk. In previous centuries these rare events were used to make an accurate measure of the distance to the planets, giving astronomers their first inkling of the true mind-boggling scale of space. To mark this occasion the Royal Observatory, Greenwich will host a programme of activities from March to September 2012, with a new exhibition and a season of talks, special events and planetarium shows all asking the question: just how big is the Universe?
From Edmund Halley and Captain Cook, to Edwin Hubble and the Cosmic Microwave Background, the Royal Observatory will tell the stories of the people who measured the cosmos.
* The Royal Observatory will be closed 7 July–14 August, due to the operational requirements of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Find out more