[lit-ideas] Re: Venus crosses the sun (for the astronomy buffsout there)

  • From: Ursula Stange <Ursula@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 01 Jun 2004 10:42:57 -0400

NEW YORK (AP) - Ben Franklin watched it. Sousa named a march after it. 
Crowds jammed the sidewalks of New York to see it in 1882. But nobody 
alive today has ever seen the silhouette of Venus crawl across 
the face of the sun.

On June 8, that sky show - astronomers call it a transit of Venus - will 
return for the first time in 122 years, visible from much of Earth. 
Thousands of schools and hundreds of museums have set up special 
programs, and tours to good viewing sites have been booked. Even people 
who don't want to leave their homes will be able to follow a live 
Webcast from Greece.

All this to watch a black dot inch across the lower part of the sun. It 
takes six hours.

-----------------    snipped      ........................................

[William] Harkness [director of the U.S. Naval Observatory in the 1880s] 
is still remembered for his poetic reflection on the upcoming event. In 
1882 he noted that it would occur when ``the 21st century of our era has 
dawned upon the earth, and the June flowers are blooming in 2004.''

-----------------------------------------------------------

US:     That last line is thought-provoking.  I wonder how he imagined 
2004.   It's clear from reading science fiction of the time that there 
was some consensus that the biggest differences would be in 
transportation.  We would all be flying through the air with the 
greatest of ease courtesy of individual jetpacks.   (Few, I think, 
foresaw that the greatest revolution would be in information.)  What 
does it say about us that amidst the June flowers of 2004, our future 
visions are so dystopic?  





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  • » [lit-ideas] Re: Venus crosses the sun (for the astronomy buffsout there)