The 1874 Transit of Venus Expeditions


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The British sent transit of Venus expeditions to five different locations across the globe. Designated stations A to E, the locations were:

Station A  –  Egypt
Station B  –  Hawaiian (Sandwich) Islands
Station C  –  Rodriguez Island
Station D  –  New Zealand
Station E  –  Kerguelen Island



Each expedition had to take all their equipment with them. This included equipment for observing the transit, equipment for magnetic and meteorological observations, as well as stationary, tents for sleeping in, catering equipment and food. A full list of what was taken is preserved at the Observatory archives at Cambridge (RGO59/58) and runs to over 80 pages and is avalable to download from the Cambridge Digital Library (click here to view).

The list below contains only the main observing instruments and clocks. Apart from the clocks Earnshaw, Graham 2, Arnold 2 and Molyneux, the Altazimuth sent to Station D (which all belonged to the Royal Observatory) and those marked * which were borrowed from elsewhere, the rest of the equipment was specially purchased and apart from the two six-inch equatorials by Simms (Troughton & Simms) and Dent 2014 were assigned to the Royal Observatory a few years after their return.


Station A B C D E
Transits Simms Simms Simms Simms Simms
RAS S1* Garnet* Shaw* Jackson*

Altazimuths Simms Simms Simms Simms 16-inch Simms 14-inch
De La Rue's*

6-inch equats Lee Naylor Simms Simms Corbett

Photoheliograph Dallymeyer Dallymeyer Dallymeyer Dallymeyer Dallymeyer

Transit Clock Dent 1914 Dent 1916 Graham 2 Arnold 2 Dent 1915
Earnshaw RAS Baker*

Other Clocks Dent 2009 Dent 2012 Dent 2014 Dent 2016 Dent 2010
Dent 2015 Dent 2013 Molyneux Dent 2017 Dent 2011