Transit of Venus pioneer William Crabtree celebrated in Salford

Detail of a mural celebrating William Crabtree's observation of the transit William Crabtree’s observation of the transit was celebrated by Ford Madox Brown in his Manchester Murals in Manchester Town Hall

Astronomers in Salford will use a viewing of the latest transit of Venus to celebrate a local’s role in the first recording of the event.

The transit was recorded in 1639 by Liverpool astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks near Preston, and was verified by his friend, Broughton’s William Crabtree.

Crabtree was an amateur stargazer who watched it at his Salford home.

Stephen Coen, who owns Crabtree’s house, said his event would give the pioneer “the recognition he deserves”.

The transit of Venus, which sees the planet pass between the Earth and the Sun, will be visible from Crabtree’s house in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

However, Mr Coen’s event takes place on Tuesday night before the transit is visible in the UK and so will show a live video feed of Nasa’s recording of the transit from a base in Hawaii.

He will be joined by other amateur astronomers at Crabtree’s house to hold a party which will be broadcast back to Nasa.

In 1639, Crabtree was given the task of verifying Horrocks’ findings and observations after the Liverpudlian decided to test his own theories about the transit.

William Crabtree's house in Salford
Image: The gathering at Crabtree’s house will be broadcast to NASA

Horrocks’ important role in astronomy has since been commemorated with a plaque in Westminster Abbey and the naming of a moon crater after him.

Mr Coen said Crabtree had not received the same praise, despite also observing the transit.

He said he had been “a citizen scientist and an astronomer that made a difference”.

“Maybe he never got the recognition he deserved, but we’re going to change that,” he said.

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