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On June 8, 2004, most of us on Earth will be able to witness something none of us has seen--a transit of Venus, when Venus passes directly in front of the sun.  Observers in eastern portions of North America will see the latter part of the transit of Venus after sunrise.   Among the best places to see the transit of Venus--considering global viewing and weather statistics-- is the Middle East, including Riyadh, Kabul, Baghdad, and Kuwait City.  

Share the common experience of this uncommon event.

For one dollar, Rainbow Symphony, will ship protective eyewear to a U.S. service man or woman in Iraq or Afghanistan.   Twenty military sites will receive Eclipse Shades manufactured by Rainbow Symphony, printed descriptions of the historical and future significance of the the transit of Venus, and printed instructions on how to view the transit safely (see flyer.htm).  Please consider viewing the transit of Venus concurrently with the troops deployed overseas and the citizens with whom they interact. 

Simply send $1.00 USD to:

Share the Experience
c/o Rainbow Symphony, Inc.
6860 Canby Ave., Suite 120
Reseda, CA  91335

Major donors include: 
SOHO: The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory

In order not to burden the military mail system and to conform to new security demands, distribution of solar shades packets is  being coordinated with Coalition Forces Land Component Command (Third United States Army).  Per Rainbow Symphony, "solar viewing materials are optical density 5 or greater and are 'CE' certified, which meets the transmission requirements of scale 12-16 of EN 169/1992."  Shades can be purchased in bulk (500 or more) for a reduced cost at

Image of a calendar page and a flag stampIf you wish to receive your own pair of eclipse shades, send $1.00 US and a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to the Rainbow Symphony address above.   Make sure you put the SASE inside the envelope you send to Rainbow Symphony or they will have nothing in which to mail your eclipse shades back to you.  Any money not accompanied by a SASE will be used to distribute solar shades packets to military personnel.
Megan Dowell, Family Readiness Leader of the 428th MP Company, joins Chuck Bueter in introducing John Philip Sousa's Transit of Venus March at the 2004 Spring Band Concert; (audio only).
The PHM Band performs John Philip Sousa's Transit of Venus March at the 2004 Spring Band Concert; (audio only).

The Best Place to See the 2004 Transit of Venus

Regardless of the joy, strife, or uncertainty in the world, the transit of Venus will happen June 8, 2004.  While leaders from the Group of Eight (G-8) nations gather in the United States, perhaps the best viewing prospects are under the hot skies of Mesopotamia.  On June 8, 2004, the world will gaze in unison at the sun.
This map correlates the zone of visibility with global weather conditions in June; from Jay Anderson.  

Considering the meteorological record of the frequency of cloud cover at mid-transit, several Middle East centers are clearly (literally) in ideal locations to view the 2004 transit of Venus. 

  Percent Frequency of Cloud Cover at mid-transit (08h UT)
Location Clear Scattered Broken Overcast Obscured
Baghdad, Iraq 86.2 11.2 2.6 0.0 0
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 91.8 7.0 1.1 0.0 0
Tel-Aviv, Israel 50.8 40.3 8.9 0.0 0
Kuwait City, Kuwait 90.4 5.7 2.3 0.0 1.6
Tehran, Iran 36.7 57.6 5.7 0.0 0
Kabul, Afghanistan 28.7 59.0 11.7 0.5 0

Larger graph at is courtesy of Jay Anderson.


Venus and Iraq

William Sheehan and John Westfall write:

All things being equal, Iraq might make a good observing site.  After all, here, within the Fertile Crescent between the Tigris and Euphrates, lay the ancient Mesopotamia, where Venus was once worshipped as Innana and more famously as Ishtar, the Queen of Heaven, the Evening Star who followed the Sun into kur the Underworld.  The poet John Milton remembers

mooned Ashtaroth,
Heaven's Queen and Mother both
    -John Milton, "Hymn on the Morning of Christ's Nativity"

Innana-Ishtar-Astarte was worshipped throughout  the ancient Middle East, and one recognizes in her the archetype of Aphrodite-Venus.

Milton's references to "mooned" Ashtaroth is interesting, because there is an old tradition that the Babylonian astronomers glimpsed the planet's crescent phase.  The Babylonian astronomers certainly followed the planet's movements.  We know this from the famous Venus-tablet found at Nineveh (near Mosul, Northern Iraq) which consists of the copy of a record made during the reign of King Ammisaduqua, the next-to-last king of the first Babylonian dynasty, who lived nearly four thousand years ago.

From The Transits of Venus, page 339.

Copyright 2003-2008 Chuck Bueter.  All rights reserved.