Jeremiah Horrocks - Transition Of Venus, Moon Crater and Asteroid 3078 - Bretherton, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member dtrebilc
N 53° 40.683 W 002° 48.081
30U E 513121 N 5947720
Quick Description: This commemoration stone to Jeremiah Horrocks was erected in 2004, a year when Venus could be seen transiting the sun. It honours the fact that in 1639 he successfully predicted and observed this regular event at a nearby house.
Location: North West England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 10/31/2015 3:36:00 PM
Waymark Code: WMPWT3
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Bernd das Brot Team
Views: 1

Long Description:

The stone is on the side of Carr House Lane, opposite the junction with Eyes Lane. Carr House where Horrocks made his observations lies to the North West of here at the junction of Carr House Lane and Liverpool Road (A59).


Jeremiah Horrocks
"Jeremiah Horrocks (1618 – 3 January 1641), sometimes given as Jeremiah Horrox (the Latinised version that he used on the Emmanuel College register and in his Latin manuscripts), was an English astronomer. He was the first person to demonstrate that the Moon moved around the Earth in an elliptical orbit; and he was the only person to predict the transit of Venus of 1639, an event which he and his friend William Crabtree were the only two people to observe and record. His early death and the chaos of the English Civil War nearly resulted in the loss to science of his treatise on the transit, Venus in sole visa; but for this and his other work he is acknowledged as one of the founding fathers of British astronomy...

In 1632 Horrocks matriculated at Emmanuel College at the University of Cambridge as a sizar. At Cambridge he associated with the mathematician John Wallis and the platonist John Worthington. At that time he was one of only a few at Cambridge to accept Copernicus's revolutionary heliocentric theory, and he studied the works of Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe and others..."

Tradition has it that after he left home he supported himself by holding a curacy in Much Hoole, near Preston in Lancashire, but there is little evidence for this. According to local tradition in Much Hoole, he lived at Carr House, within the Bank Hall Estate, Bretherton. Carr House was a substantial property owned by the Stones family who were prosperous farmers and merchants, and Horrocks was probably a tutor for the Stones' children...

Horrocks was the first to demonstrate that the Moon moved in an elliptical path around the Earth, and he posited that comets followed elliptical orbits. He supported his theories by analogy to the motions of a conical pendulum, noting that after a plumb bob was drawn back and released it followed an elliptical path, and that its major axis rotated in the direction of revolution as did the apsides of the moon's orbit. He anticipated Isaac Newton in suggesting the influence of the Sun as well as the Earth on the moon's orbit. In the Principia Newton acknowledged Horrocks's work in relation to his theory of lunar motion. In the final months of his life Horrocks made detailed studies of tides in attempting to explain the nature of lunar causation of tidal movements...

Transit of Venus 1639
Horrocks was convinced that Lansberg's tables were inaccurate when Kepler predicted a near-miss of a transit of Venus in 1639. Having made his own observations of Venus for years, Horrocks predicted a transit would indeed occur.

Horrocks made a simple helioscope by focusing the image of the Sun through a telescope onto a plane surface, whereby an image of the Sun could be safely observed. From his location in Much Hoole he calculated the transit would begin at approximately 3:00 pm on 24 November 1639, Julian calendar (or 4 December in the Gregorian calendar). The weather was cloudy but he first observed the tiny black shadow of Venus crossing the Sun at about 3:15 pm; and he continued to observe for half an hour until the sun set. The 1639 transit was also observed by his friend and correspondent William Crabtree from his home in Broughton near Manchester.

Horrocks' observations allowed him to make a well-informed guess as to the size of Venus—previously thought to be larger and closer to Earth—and to estimate of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, now known as the astronomical unit (AU). His figure of 95 million kilometres (59 million miles, 0.63 AU) was far from the 150 million kilometres (93 million miles) known today, but it was more accurate than any suggested up to that time.

A treatise by Horrocks on the study of the transit, Venus in sole visa (Venus seen on the Sun), was later published by the Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius at his own expense; it caused great excitement when revealed to members of the Royal Society in 1662, some 20 years after it was written. It presented Horrocks' enthusiastic and romantic nature, including humorous comments and passages of original poetry. When speaking of the century separating Venusian transits, he rhapsodised:

' ...Thy return Posterity shall witness; years must roll
Away, but then at length the splendid sight
Again shall greet our distant children's eyes.'

It was a time of great uncertainty in astronomy, when the world's astronomers could not agree amongst themselves and theologians fulminated against claims that contradicted Scripture. Horrocks, although a pious young man, came down firmly on the side of scientific determinism.

It is wrong to hold the most noble Science of the Stars guilty of uncertainty on account of some people's uncertain observations. Through no fault of its own it suffers these complaints which arise from the uncertainty and error not of the celestial motions but of human observations...I do not consider that any imperfections in the motions of the stars have so far been detected, nor do I believe that they are ever to be found. Far be it from me to allow that God has created the heavenly bodies more imperfectly than man has observed them. – Jeremiah Horrocks." link

Horrocks has had a moon crater and and asteroid named after him

Horrocks Moon Crater
This moon crater named in honour of Jeremiah Horrocks has a diameter of 30 km and a depth of 3 km.

"Horrocks is a lunar impact crater located entirely within the eroded northeast rim of the much larger walled plain Hipparchus. To the south of Horrocks are the craters Halley and Hind and Rhaeticus to the north. Gyldén and Saunder lie to the west and east, respectively. The crater Horrocks was named after the 17th-century English astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks.

The rim of Horrocks is somewhat irregular and polygonal, particularly with an outward protrusion on the eastern rim. It has a small outer rampart. The inner wall is slumped, particularly along the northwest where it forms a heap of talus. The interior floor is uneven, and it has a central mountain and hills. The crater is approximately 30 kilometers in diameter and 3 kilometers deep. It is from the Eratosthenian period, which lasted from 3.2 to 1.1 billion years ago." link

Asteroid 3078 Horrocks
This asteroid is a main belt asteroid and was discovered in 1984.
"Discovered at Anderson Mesa on 1984-03-31 by E. Bowell. (3078) Horrocks = 1984 FG

Named for Jeremiah Horrocks (1619-1641), the English astronomer who predicted the transit of Venus across the face of the sun in 1639 Nov. and became the first to see such an event. From his observations he improved the orbital elements and the diameter of Venus. He believed the moon to have an elliptical orbit with the earth at one focus--a fact that Newton was later to acknowledge. Name proposed by the discoverer following a suggestion by B. Hetherington. [Ref: Minor Planet Circ. 10846]". Minor Planet Centre link
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Celestial Body: Venus

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