European Science & Technology Week 2004Visit the websites of the VT-2004 organisers
European Southern Observatory (ESO)European Association for Astronomy Education (EAAE) Observatoire de ParisInstitut de Mécanique Céleste et de Calcul des Éphémérides (IMCCE)Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

The Venus Transit 2004

... VT-2004 Press Communication 01 (April 21, 2004)


The Moon and four planets in the evening sky

During the coming evenings, everybody under clear skies will be able to enjoy a beautiful view in the twilight. Right after sunset, planet Venus is visible as a brilliant point of light above the western horizon - and two other planets, Mars and Saturn, are seen to the left of Venus as somewhat less bright objects. More to the south and higher in the sky, planet Jupiter is also prominent.

In the evenings of April 22 and 23, the thin crescent of the Moon will be located near Venus and Mars, further adding to the splendor of this sight (the drawing shows the configuration in the evening of Friday, April 23).

One month later, around May 21, there will be another chance to witness this interesting celestial sight. And even more: on that particular Friday, for observers in Europe, the Moon will pass in front of Venus. Known as an "occultation", this event will happen around 12 hrs Universal Time (UT), i.e. in full daylight during early afternoon in central Europe. More details are available here.

These are fine preludes to the rare astronomical event on Tuesday, June 8th, 2004, when Venus will pass in front of the solar disc, as seen from the Earth. This "Venus Transit" happened last time in the year 1882 and now provides a vast public in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia the opportunity for a unique experience.

The VT-2004 programme is gaining momentum

The "Venus Transit 2004 Programme (VT-2004)" is a joint public science discovery activity of several European research institutes [1]. It aims at reaching the widest possible circles and stimulating broad public participation, involving many active partners. The front page of the VT-2004 website ( provides an overview of the many approaches inherent in this large-scale programme.

The present communication is the first in a series to be issued between now and the Venus Transit event seven weeks hence. They aim at informing about the progress and outlook of the various activities. With a rapidly increasing number of visitors to the VT-2004 website and more and more requests for information from the public and the media, the VT-2004 programme is now obviously gaining momentum at a rapid pace and these communications therefore also serve as status records.

Information and materials for the media

Media representatives will find a lot of useful material at the VT-2004 website, e.g.:

  • A series of 33 Information Sheets, with related background facts. They are available in two versions ("brief" and "extended"). Ranging from information about the visibility of the Venus transit and the physical characteristic of that planet to associated mythology and science fiction, from distances in the Universe to historical expeditions, virtually all related subjects are covered - a true treasure trove of information!
  • A list of partner organisations in- and outside Europe, collaborating within the VT-2004 Network. Some of these have been designated VT-2004 Nodes; they have set up their own websites and are promoting the many activities in their respective areas. They provide relevant local information in the local languages.
  • Special webareas for the Media, for Students and Teachers (Education) (a vast number of schools are organising activities before and during the event), Amateur Astronomers (many astronomy clubs are arranging public viewings) and also for the Youngest.
  • Broadcast-quality video material (animations, etc.) and related photos are also available.
  • On the day of the transit, many activities will take place, cf. the overview, hereunder the transmission of live images from many observing sites via the "Central Display".

Media representatives are welcome to contact the organisers via email at


[1] The VT-2004 programme is organised by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) , the European Association for Astronomy Education (EAAE) , the Institut de Mécanique Céleste et de Calcul des Éphémérides (IMCCE) and the Observatoire de Paris in France, and the Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic . It is supported by the European Commission in the framework of European Science Week 2004 .