Summary: Transit of Venus: New Views of the Solar System and Galaxy
Proceedings IAU Colloquium No. 196, 2004
D.W. Kurtz & G.E. Bromage, eds.
# 2004 International Astronomical Union
Observations of Planetary Transits made in
Ireland in the 18th Century and the
Development of Astronomy in Ireland
Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh BT61 9DG, N. Ireland
Abstract. We review the small number of known observations of planetary transits made in Ire
land in the 18th century with particular reference to the 1769 observations of Venus by Charles
Mason. Though inconclusive, there is evidence to suggest that planetary transits were instru
mental in the foundation of at least one of the principal observatories in Ireland. In addition, we
note the close personal involvement and the contributions of Nevil Maskelyne, the prime mover
of the UK 1769 Transit observations, in the design and equipment of these observatories.
It is di#cult now to ascertain just how much astronomical activity there was in Ire
land in the first half of the 18th century. There was only one university on the island,