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Crabtree celebrated during Transit of Venus

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Posted by Editor on 7th June 2012 at 12:42 PM
Crabtree celebrated during Transit of Venus

By Liam Thorp

On Tuesday, people across the world gathered to witness the astronomical phenomenon that is the transit of Venus: this event will not occur for another 105 years.

The vision of Venus passing in front of the Sun could be witnessed in the UK from around 11pm. As different groups looked on, there was one particularly poignant gathering at a house in Salford.

Guests came together at the former house of Broughton-based astronomer and mathematician William Crabtree.

Crabtree was one of only two people to observe and record the first transit of Venus in 1639. Along with fellow astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks, they proved that planets orbit the sun and not the Earth. Many feel Crabtree’s role in the birth of modern astronomy is not celebrated enough.

On Tuesday, a themed event, held by Salford’s assistant mayor for international relations, Stephen Coen, who now lives in Crabtree's house, was held at the property in Lower Broughton Road. There were period actors recreating Crabtree’s moment of discovery and a live link with Nasa’s telescope in Hawaii.

“The night went extremely well, an amazing success with lots of excited astrophysicists around,” said Councillor Coen.

“Everyone was paying homage to Crabtree, which is important as people often remember Horrocks more. Some might say that’s because Horrocks went to Cambridge University and Crabtree was a Salford lad.
What he did was fundamentally important to science and the world we know and it all came from a window in Salford.”

Councillor Coen revealed this “once in a lifetime experience” has inspired him to try and get more people involved in science in Salford.

“Some people may have not had opportunities before and we want to develop links with Nasa and maybe discover the next Crabtree.”

The next Transit of Venus is predicted for the year 2117.

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