Are you ready for the ? Got your special viewing glasses and spot picked out?
Don’t know yet what a transit of Venus is? (Don’t feel bad, the first time I heard of it I thought it was another one of those cults waiting for the Mother Ship or something.)
A transit of Venus is the passage of the planet Venus between the earth and sun, making the planet backlit and visible. It happens just once every 100 years or so, and then, oddly, will occur within about eight years. This transit, which will happen tonight after 6 p.m., comes eight years after the last transit in 2004, though that one wasn't visible.
The next transit won't come around again, astronomers say, for another 117 years, which means anyone reading this likely won't be alive to see it again (barring, that is, some great advances in medical technology that extends the human life well past 100 years).
UPDATE: Wesleyan University in Middletown will host a viewing of the rare astronomical event tonight, along with Yale in New Haven and UConn in Storrs, according to the Hartford Courant.
So, what is Meriden’s connection to the transit of Venus? Well, according to one historical book, written sometime in the early 20th century by a local scientific group, when the last visible transit occurred in Connecticut in December of 1882 some 2,000 people gathered in Meriden to watch it.
The book, “Proceedings and Transactions of the Scientific Association, Meriden,” goes on to say that while watching the transit, all those folks “became greatly frightened but none of them injured,” when an earthquake struck at the same time as the transit.
That particular passage in the book is from an address given by a local pastor, J.T. Pettee, concerning how to fix particular dates of important events by astrological history.
For someone so intrigued by astrology and history, Pettee said little else about the transit, why so many people were in Meriden to see it, or what was with the earthquake!
He also doesn’t mention where they all gathered here to see the transit, but a safe guess would be , the high point in Hubbard Park and likely a perfect viewing spot of the night sky.
Looking for more information on the transit? There’s an entire website devoted to it, with a helpful FAQ section.