The Transit of Venus: A Remarkable Astronomical Discovery

Transit of Venus notation in David Schultz's Almanac

Page from the Christopher Saur’s 1769 almanac, owned by David Schultz. Collection of the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center

“The Transit of Venus was observed in America on June 3rd. No other transit will happen until the 9th of December, 1874. A Remarkable astronomical discovery.” -David Schultz 1769

The transit of Venus was a momentous occasion in 1769, one that the esteemed astronomer, scientist, and Philadelphia native David Rittenhouse observed in Philadelphia. Rittenhouse created instruments to chart the event, made numerous astronomical calculations, and placed Philadelphia on the map as a center of scientific discovery in the 18th century.

Schwenkfelder surveyor David Schultz notes the transit of Venus in his almanac on June 3, 1769. His copy of Christopher Saur’s 1769 almanac, a reference for historians and genealogists, is in our archive at the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center.

The transit of Venus across the sun occurs in pairs eight years apart. The first observation was made in 1639; following observations were made in 1769, 1874, 1882, 2004. Today June 5, 2012, you can safely view the eclipse online or through special viewing glasses.

Title page, Christopher Saur almanac, 1769, Germantown PA

Title page, Christopher Saur almanac, 1769, Germantown PA . Owned by Schwenkfelder David Schultz. Collection of the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center.

To learn more about Schwenkfelder surveyor David Schultz, visit our library and archives, or read Andrew Berky’s The Journals and Papers of David Schultz, Volumes I and II, published by the Schwenkfelder Library in 1953.

To learn more about David Rittenhouse, visit the American Philosophical Society, http://www.apsmuseum.org/

About schwenkfelder

We are a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of the Schwenkfelders and the history of southeastern Pennsylvania and the Perkiomen Region. The Heritage Center offers educational programming and tours, exhibits, workshops, and events throughout the year. Our blog is maintained by museum educator, Rebecca Lawrence, SLHC staff and guest bloggers.
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