Next week, we will be doing another live web cast, the transit of Venus, while this one definitely has less political and religious issues than the dalai lama web cast, I’m still not sure why we are doing it, other than we were asked to (and hey we just supply the technology). You see the university of central Lancashire (Preston Poly to you an me) seems to have this one pretty much sown up. With a quite nice web site, and web casts from the original place where the transit was first observed.
You see up until my copy of new scientist plopped on my doormat this morning (but not my ballot papers… another story), I was a Venus luddite, and I couldn’t understand why you would even care about a small hot rock passing in front of a larger big glowing ball of gas*, But now I do. It transpires that Venus is the reason we know how far everything else is away, if it wasn’t for Venus (plus some clever maths by Kepler, Pythagoras and a bit of thinking by Edmund Hally), we wouldn’t know how far we are from the sun, and hence the other planets.
Of course it doesn’t matter now because we have used technology to work things out another way. But back in the days of candles and pieces of string, knowing how far the sun was away was dead useful.
So on the 8th of June we shall stream high quality (upto 1mb/s) images of a 6 hour event accross the internet. this is of course much safer than looking at the sun.
*who said I always put to much technical guff in my explanations?