The transit of Venus will soon captivate the world. Millions of people will be turning to the Internet to experience this rare event. One popular way to view the transit will be through live video streams from telescopes. Another way to learn and share experiences about the transit is through one of our oldest story-telling devices: the map.
Maps have figured prominently in the history of the transit of Venus. In 1760, Joseph-Nicolas Delisle created an influential transit map that guided many of the international expeditions of 1761 and 1769. In the late 19th century, Richard Anthony Proctor drafted a series of maps and diagrams that explained the geometry of the transit to the public. Many other examples can be seen in this archive of historical maps.
It is now our turn to tell our stories of the transit of Venus through maps.
This new transit of Venus web app has just gone live at tov2012.esri.com and invites you to learn about the transit, see observations in real time, and share your experiences of this special and rare event. The web app is a dynamic and participatory platform that offers these ways to encounter the transit and interact with others:
- You can find where and when the transit occurs around the world
- You can view contact timing observations from the VenusTransit smartphone app in near real-time on transit day and compare observed contact times with predicted contact times (most of the timing differences can be attributed to the black drop effect)
- You can find tweets, pictures, and videos of transit of Venus activities on the map and share your experiences by using these hashtags and key phrases: #tov2012, #venustransit, ‘Transit of Venus’, and ‘Venus Transit’
- You can watch a video which briefly explains the transit and provides a visual animation that compresses the 6 hours and 40 minutes of the transit into one minute
The transit of Venus web app was developed jointly by the prototype software laboratory from Esri, the GIS software company (and my employer), Astronomers Without Borders, and the Dutch team behind the VenusTransit smartphone app and this website.