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Transit of Venus 2012

MadLab (Manchester Digital Laboratory)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 8:00 PM (BST)

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Watcher Ended £10.00 £0.90

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Event Details

Crabtree watching the Transit of Venus

One of the rarest astronomical events is happening next month for the last time in all our lifetimes – the transit of Venus. To mark the last time Venus will pass directly between the Sun and Earth until 2117, MadLab is hosting a unique event at the Salford home of one of the scientists involved in a key moment in our understanding of the planetary alignment. The transit of Venus happens in pairs, eight years apart – but separated by more than a century. The last spectacular sighting was in 2004 so if you missed that, make sure you don't miss out on your final chance to take part in this remarkable happening.

MadLab is inviting amateur stargazers to join them in The Priory, Salford, the home of William Crabtree, himself a cloth merchant, astronomer and scientist – a 17th century citizen scientist of the kind that thrive at our central Manchester hack space today. In 1639, he and friend Jeremiah Horrocks were the first people to ever record the transit, proving the Copernican theory that the planets orbit the Sun, not the Earth.

The momentous discovery was commemorated centuries later by Ford Madox Brown, with his Manchester Town Hall mural Crabtree Watching the Transit of Venus AD1639. The piece shows Crabtree and his family watching the transit, surrounded by the billowing cloths of his trade, from the first floor window of his house – in the hamlet then known as Broughton Spout. Incredibly, that very same room exists and is completely intact.

This June 5, on the night of the transit of Venus, MadLab in association with Salford City Council, are opening Crabtree's house and gardens to the public for a one-night-only event. A NASA feed will be broadcast, tracking the transit from Mauna Kea in Hawaii, with projection mapping simulating the transit just as Crabtree observed it. There will be talks from NASA and Jodrell Bank scientists. To recreate the special moment, Ford Madox Brown's painting will be recreated in situ, with his original sketches loaned for the night from the Manchester Art Gallery and furniture and fabric provided by Ordsall Hall. Space-themed music from Irfan (Rainy City Music) and food will be provided to complete the transit of Venus night.

The event location will be revealed 24 hours before the event as Crabtree's house is now a private residence - but it's very near to Man United's training ground, The Cliff.  It's a five minute drive from Manchester City centre.

If you'd like a lift from MadLab, we'll have volunteers running people to the site in the evening at about 8pm (TBC).  We'll have details of local taxi services at the site for you to get home.  The event lasts for six and a half hours - but we don't expect everyone to stay awake through it!  Please bring blankets to wrap up warm if you plan on staying outside.  The house is very small and can't hold lots of people!

If you would like to pay on the door, drop us an email at and we'll put you on the list.


NB. Venus will begin her transit across the sun at 11.09pm; by 6am on the morning of the 6th June she will have made her exit.

Have questions about Transit of Venus 2012? Contact MadLab (Manchester Digital Laboratory)

When & Where

Near Manchester United's training ground in Salford

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 8:00 PM (BST)

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MadLab (Manchester Digital Laboratory)

MadLab is a community space for people who want to do and make interesting stuff - a place for geeks, artists, designers, illustrators, hackers, tinkerers, innovators and idle dreamers; an autonomous R&D laboratory and a release valve for Manchester's creative communities.

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