Tuesday, 8 June 2004

Transit of Venus

My neighbours have a telescope. They asked me over to have a look (fortunately cos I wasn't doing very well at focusing the sun onto a card through the binoculars).

A tiny black dot is silhouetted against the massive bright disc that is the sun, moving slowly across the bottom. Venus and earth are comparable in size. So Earth is also as small as this against the massive sun.

BBC Science and Nature - Transit of Venus

Venus is the Taurean planet (apparently). Goddess of love. From a transit like this they figured out how far we were from the sun. Remarkable achievements of the forefathers. I can't imagine how people figured out these things. The power of the intellect of others is astonishing. Wish I had the capacity for it - I have the fascination but not the patience or methodology.

Its easy to fall into that trap of thinking we are the centre of the universe. As the sun moves out of focus on the telescope I say, "its amazing how quickly the sun moves", and am corrected by the owner of the telescope - its actually we who are moving. Of course (I know that - its just not what it looks like). I seldom feel us moving like I used to believe I could when I was a teenager - sit very still with eyes closed contemplating - I then could become aware of the earth moving (so I thought). The most recent time I felt the earth moving was in the recent earthquake - I knew from the way my body rolled in the bed, and the way the house shook for an extended time that this wasn't a train going past on the nearby railway. And I ran out and asked my Dad if he felt anything but he hadn't, it was only in the morning on the news that I found out what it was.

With city dwelling we are more and more removed from knowing the earth - man-made pleasures fill our time with fewer opportunities to enjoy the simple things like watching plants grow, changing seasons, skies full of activity.

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