June 3, 1769

Observing the Transit of Venus

As the debate raged about the best permanent location for the College, a proof of interest and knowledge of science in Providence was about to take place. Future college Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy Benjamin West used a telescope purchased by Joseph Brown to observe the passage of the planet Venus across the sun. The data collected during this rare event was to be joined with that of other observers around the globe to advance the world’s understanding of the dimensions of the solar system. In addition to swaying the Newport-Providence contest, the event also left a legacy on the city of Providence, with the naming of both "Transit" and "Planet" streets.