The Transit of Venus
Written by Sten Odenwald;
reprinted with permission.
As the countdown for the Transit of Venus continues, and many of us are
counting down for the emergence of the east coast Brood-X cicadas, I was curious
how often we get cicadas during a transit of Venus....hey, as an astronomer my
job is to take a bigger look at 'cosmic' events!
Inquiring minds need to know...
The attached spreadsheet shows how I did
it...not hard to do really, thanks to Fred Espenak's ephemeris of the last 52
transits. So, you list the ones that happened only in May-June, and do the math.
The answer is:
797 AD on May 22 - The Big News Event of the day was the death of Constantine
V's son Leo in March:
"While the court was enjoying a stay at the hot springs at Prousa (Brusa)
in October 796, the news arrived that Theodote had given birth to a son,
presumably prematurely (the baby, called Leo, died in the following May) and
Leo rushed to his wife's side. This gave Irene -- doubtless concerned for her
own position at the birth of Constantine V's son and heir -- the opportunity
to plot against him in his absence: 'his mother addressed the commanders of
the tagmata and beguiled them by means of gifts and promises with a view to
deposing her son and becoming sole ruler herself; some of them she coaxed
personally, others through the men of her household, and she drew everyone to
her side and was waiting to find the proper moment.'[] Irene may have used
the questionable legitimacy of her grandson to raise concerns about the
succession. But Constantine V does not seem to have perceived any danger in
his position though it was already being seriously undermined. When he led a
campaign against the Arabs in March 797, he was accompanied by Stauracius and
other friends of his mother. These, afraid of the psychological value of a
victory to Constantine V at this juncture, bribed scouts to report that the
Arabs had retreated, and to his chagrin the emperor returned
921 BC on May 23. - The Big News Event of the day was Solomon's recent death,
and the division of Israel into Judah and Israel.
Sten Odenwald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.