Maidenwell astronomer James Barclay with some of the many visitors at his observatory this morning

June 6, 2012

Astronomer James Barclay is expecting between 300 and 500 people to pass through the doors of his observatory at Maidenwell today to observe the rare Transit of Venus.

The Transit – when the planet Venus passes across the face of the Sun – happens in pairs every 124 years.

Eager visitors keen to be a part of history have travelled to Maidenwell from all over south-east Queensland. Coachloads are also coming from Maryborough and Gympie.

The rare astronomical event has a special significance for lovers of Australian history.

The 1769 transit was one of the reasons that then-Lieutenant James Cook was sent to the South Pacific.

As well as making accurate observations of the event, he also “discovered” Australia and New Zealand, and the rest, as they say, is history …

James Barclay explained today that because of the angle that Australians are observing the event, Venus won’t appear to pass across the disc of the Sun in a straight line; rather it will trace out the path of an arc.

Visitors at Maidenwell watched the Transit through special solar glasses, telescopes or live on the big screen
Marty Harmsworth, of Wondai, and Robert Westley, of Kingaroy, were selling raffle tickets at the Observatory to raise funds for local charities

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Anderssons Fruit Market for quality fruits and vegetables