Adventures of two astronomers from Geneva on the way to Lapland to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun in 1769

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Salle du Conseil (Paris)

Salle du Conseil



Mr Dimitri Bayuk (Observatoire de Paris)


Two astronomers from Geneva, Jacques-André Mallet and Jean-Louis Pictet, set out for Russia on 4 April 1768, and by March 1769 arrived at their observational sites in the Russian part of Lapland (Kola Peninsula) to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun on 3 June. They returned to Geneva on 29 October. Both left detailed diaries of their adventures during this mission. The diaries were stored unpublished in archives of Geneva until the beginning of this century when a group of scholars decided to publish and comment on them. The book appeared in 2005 in Switzerland, and in 2018 the Swiss Ambassy in Moscow initiated a project of publishing their annotated translations in Russian. Among all other observers, they were a kind of exception: thanks to manipulations of Leonard Euler and Daniel Bernoulli, they not only were allowed to conduct their observations on the Russian territory but also their projects were funded by the Russian crown. Measurements of 1769 turned out to be much more successful in determining the solar parallax and, therefore, the real dimensions of the Solar system that those of 1761.

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