Press Release

Moon and four planets in the evening sky

By SpaceRef Editor
April 26, 2004
Filed under ,

Moon and four planets in the evening sky – A fine prelude to the venus transit

During the coming evenings, everybody under clear skies will be able

to enjoy a beautiful view in the twilight. Right after sunset, planet

Venus is visible as a brilliant point of light above the western

horizon – and two other planets, Mars and Saturn, are seen to the left

of Venus as somewhat less bright objects. More to the south and higher

in the sky, planet Jupiter is also prominent.

In the evenings of April 22 and 23, the thin crescent of the Moon will

be located near Venus and Mars, further adding to the splendor of this

sight (the drawing shows the configuration in the evening of Friday,

April 23).

One month later, around May 21, there will be another chance to

witness this interesting celestial sight. And even more: on that

particular Friday, for observers in Europe, the Moon will pass in

front of Venus. Known as an “occultation”, this event will happen

around 12 hrs Universal Time (UT), i.e. in full daylight during early

afternoon in central Europe.

These are fine preludes to the rare astronomical event on Tuesday,

June 8th, 2004, when Venus will pass in front of the solar disc, as

seen from the Earth. This “Venus Transit” happened last time in the

year 1882 and now provides a vast public in Europe, Africa, Asia and

Australia the opportunity for a unique experience.

The VT-2004 programme is gaining momentum

The “Venus Transit 2004 Programme (VT-2004)” is a joint public science

discovery activity of several European research institutes [1]. It

aims at reaching the widest possible circles and stimulating broad

public participation, involving many active partners. The front page

of the VT-2004 website ( provides an overview

of the many approaches inherent in this large-scale programme.

The present communication is the first in a series to be issued

between now and the Venus Transit event seven weeks hence. They aim at

informing about the progress and outlook of the various

activities. With a rapidly increasing number of visitors to the

VT-2004 website and more and more requests for information from the

public and the media, the VT-2004 programme is now obviously gaining

momentum at a rapid pace and these communications therefore also serve

as status records.

Information and materials for the media

Media representatives will find a lot of useful material at the VT-2004

website, e.g.:

  • A series of 33 Information Sheets, with

    related background facts. They are available in two versions

    (“brief” and “extended”). Ranging from information about the

    visibility of the Venus transit and the physical characteristic of

    that planet to associated mythology and science fiction, from

    distances in the Universe to historical expeditions, virtually all

    related subjects are covered – a true treasure trove of information!

  • A list of partner organisations in- and outside Europe,

    collaborating within the VT-2004 Network. Some of

    these have been designated VT-2004 Nodes; they have

    set up their own websites and are promoting the many activities in

    their respective areas. They provide relevant local information in

    the local languages.

  • Special webareas for the Media, for Students and

    Teachers (Education) (a vast number of schools are organising

    activities before and during the event), Amateur Astronomers

    (many astronomy clubs are arranging public viewings)

    and also for the Youngest.

  • Broadcast-quality video material (animations,

    etc.) and related photos are also available.

  • On the day of the transit, many activities will take place, cf.

    the overview, hereunder the transmission of live

    images from many observing sites via the “Central Display”.


Media representatives are welcome to contact the organisers via email


The full text of VT-2004 Press Communication 01 (April 21, 2004), with

one figure and all weblinks, is available at:


[1] The VT-2004 programme is organised by the European Southern

Observatory (ESO), the European Association for

Astronomy Education (EAAE), the Institut

de Mecanique Celeste et de Calcul des Ephemerides (IMCCE) and the Observatoire de Paris in France, and the Astronomical Institute of the

Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic It

is supported by the European Commission in the framework of European

Science Week 2004.

SpaceRef staff editor.