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Sic Transit Glorious: A Transit of Venus Celebration

June 1, 2012-July 8, 2012
104 S. Fifth Street

In collaboration with Independence National Historical Park (INHP)

This exhibition documented all observed Transits of Venus beginning in 1639 through images, rare books, and manuscripts, and told the story of the American Philosophical Society’s role in the 1769 Transit. It featured three 18th-century instruments used to chart that event, including the Transit telescope and astronomical clock David Rittenhouse built for himself.

In the annals of the American Philosophical Society, June 3, 1769 stands out as a defining moment. On that day, Venus passed between the Earth and the Sun in a rare astronomical spectacle called the Transit of Venus—an event that happens in pairs eight years apart, each pair occurring more than a century after the previous one. In 1769, it was an event that Members of the APS observed—one that put American science (and the APS) on the international map.