In New Zealand Mr James Townsend’s observatory was in Christchurch hoping to see the Transit of Venus with the Lands and Survey Officer Walter Kitson 1835-1914 making use of the 15.2 cm (6in) Cooke refractor.
looked for signs of a Venusian atmosphere, but“...no
halo nor any light at all different from the light of the Sun was
visible round the planet, nor was there any shadow round the planet’s
limb.”. What he did notice, though, was that Venus“...appeared
to have a lighter tinge towards its limb. This light tinge began to
displace the blackness of the centre at about one-tenth of the
diameter from the edge. The tinge was of a bluish colour, the centre
being almost black.”.
About ten seconds before third contact, Kitson recorded“...the
appearance to me of a shadow or darkening of the Sun’s
face between the limbs of the planet and Sun near the point of
and third contact subsequently occurred, without any sign of the
About twenty minutes later Kitson observed fourth contact.
In 1891 three years before he died Townsend donated his 1864 Cooke telescope to Canterbury College and in 1896 it was installed in the newly erected tower observatory on campus. The campus precinct became the Christchurch Arts Centre with the establishment of the new University at Ilam, but the Townsend Observatory remained under the control of the University’s Department of Physics and astronomy. And was used for regular ‘public viewing nights’. Unfortunately the observatory tower was damaged during the 2010 earthquake and collapsed during the 2011 earthquakes. Although the telescope was badly damaged, surprisingly the object was found intact.