[sources yet to be attributed]
"Willingly would I burn to death like Phaeton, were this the price for
reaching the Sun and learning its shape, its size, and its
"If God himself has waited six thousand years for someone to contemplate
his works, my book can wait for a hundred."
"...I discovered further movement, and only then did I conclude that
Mercury had come in on his splendid wings."
"To give up the study of philosophy on account of the difficulties in my
way was weak and unworthy of my soul. I decided , therefore, that
weariness in study was to be overcome by industry; poverty by patience, since
there was no other way; in default of a Master I must use astronomical
"But America! Venus! what riches dost thou squander on unworthy regions
which attempt to repay such favours with gold, the paltry product of their
mines. Let these barbarians keep their precious metals to themselves, the
incentives to evil which we are content to do without. These rude people
would indeed ask from us too much should they deprive us of all those celestial
riches, the use of which they are not able to comprehend."
"I omitted no available opportunity of observing her ingress...being
called away in the intervals by business of the highest importance which, for
these ornamental pursuits, I could not with propriety neglect."
"...the clouds, as if by divine interposition, were entirely dispersed,
and I was once more invited to the grateful task of repeating my
observations. I then beheld a most agreeable spectacle, the object of my
sanguine wishes...I could scarcely have wished for a more extended period."
"[William Crabtree] was gratified by beholding the pleasing spectacle of
Venus upon the Sun's disc. Rapt in contemplation, he stood for some time
motionless, scarcely trusting his own senses, through an excess of joy."
"Thy return Posterity shall witness. Years must roll away, but then at
length the splendid sight again shall greet our distant children's eyes."
"Scarce any problem will appear more hard and difficult, than that of
determining the distance of the Sun from the Earth very near the truth: but even
this...will without much labour be effected."
"This sight...is by far the noblest astronomy affords..."
"I earnestly wish them all imaginable success; in the first place that
they may not, by the unseasonable obscurity of a cloudy sky, be deprived of this
most desirable sight; and then, that having ascertained with more exactness the
magnitudes of the planetary orbits, it may redound to their eternal fame and
"We will not proceed thither [to Bencoolen], let the consequence be what
Pleasures of the like nature may sometimes be experienced; but at this
instant, I truly enjoyed that of my observation, and was delighted with the
hopes of its being still useful to posterity, when I had quitted this
"Liquor gives us the necessary strength for determining the distance of
the Earth from the Sun."
"That is the fate which often attends astronomers...exiling myself from
my motherland, only to be the spectator of a fatal cloud, which arrived in front
of the Sun at the precise moment of my observation, snatching from me the fruit
of my efforts and exertions."
"I know that I have only a little time left to live, but I have
fulfilled my aim and I die content."
"...the several Powers of Europe will again contend which of them shall
be most instrumental in contributing to the solution of this grand
problem. Posterity must reflect with infinite regret upon their negligence
or remisssness, because the loss cannot be repaired by the united efforts of
industry, genius or power."
"When we consider the ingenuity of the method employed in arriving at
this determination [of the Astronomical Unit], and the refined nature of the
process by which it is carried into effect, we cannot refrain from acknowledging
it to be one of the noblest triumphs which the human mind has ever achieved in
the study of physical science."
"Still, to have seen even a part of a transit of Venus is an event to
remember for a lifetime, and we felt more delight than can easily be expressed
at even this slight gleam of success."
"We are now on the eve of the second transit of a pair, after which
there will be no other till the twenty-first century of our era has dawned upon
the earth, and the June flowers are blooming in 2004. When the last transit
season occurred the intellectual world was awakening from the slumber of ages,
and that wondrous scientific activity which has led to our present advanced
knowledge was just beginning. What will be the state of science when the next
transit season arrives God only knows. Not even our children's children will
live to take part in the astronomy of that day. As for ourselves, we have to do
with the present...
"L 'homme propose-- Dieu dispose."
"No reader of this [Sky & Telescope] magazine will purposely
miss such a rare event--a chance to stand beside Edmond Halley and James Cook
and take a dip into the magic waters of astronomical
"Since no living person can lay claim to having seen a Venus transit, I
expect the upcoming events to be very high on many observers' 'must-see'
"It should be asked, how can man know these things? I have one
plain answer to give, which is, that man knows how to calculate an eclipse, and
also how to calculate to a minute of time when the planet Venus in making
her revolutions around the sun will come in a straight line between our earth
and the sun...As, therefore, man could not be able to do these things
if he did not understand the solar system, and the manner in which the
revolutions of the several planets or worlds are performed, the fact of
calculating an eclipse, or a transit of Venus, is a proof in point that the
knowledge exists; and as to a few thousand, or even a few million miles, more or
less, it makes scarcely any sensible difference in such immense distances.
"For everyone hoping to see the transit on June 8, 2004, there are
certainly lessons to be learned from the past. Those who wish to time the
contacts would be well advise to practise ahead of time with computer
simulations and to be well aware of the different states that might be observed
near internal contact such as the halo that surrounds the planet before, and the
formation and breaking of a dark thread after contact. Even with such
modern trappings as radio-time signals, video and digital recording, can any
observers time the contacts better than their forebears of the nineteenth or
even the eighteenth century? Will we do better than our great-grandparents
did in providing good information to the public for safe viewing? Will the
media cover the event as thoroughly as they did in 1882? Will we be better
at encouraging young people, especially, to get up early in the morning to see
something no living person has ever seen? Who knows how many of them will be
motivated t learn more about the heavens when they see the next occurrence of
this rare spectacle unfolding exactly as predicted on 8 June 2004?"
"I think the astronomers of the first years of the twenty first century,
looking back over the long transit-less period which will then have passed, will
understand the anxiety of astronomers in our own time to utilise to the full
whatever opportunities the coming transits may afford...;and I
venture to hope...they will not be disposed to judge over harshly what some in
our own day may have regarded as an excess of zeal."
Copyright ©2003-2008 Chuck Bueter. All rights reserved.