AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Diagrams of the globe showing the predicted path of the transit of Venus on 6th June 1761. These diagrams were created by the English astronomer Edmond Halley (1656-1742). Halley realised that observing the transit of Venus (the passage of the planet across the surface of the Sun as seen from Earth) from multiple locations would allow the distance between the Earth and the Sun, the astronomical unit (AU), to be determined and urged the scientific community to collaborate on the project. Halley died before the next transit occurred, but measurements taken during the transits of 1761 and 1769 led to a measurement of the AU that was within one per cent of today's measurement.
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