§ EARL DE LA WARR
asked Her Majesty's Government, What arrangements had been made for the observation of the Transit of Venus, as regards the number and places of the stations, and the method of observation to be adopted? and said, as the time was fast approaching when active steps must be taken to organize the expeditions which were to leave this country for those stations which had been selected for observing the important astronomical occurrence of the Transit of Venus, it was, he thought, desirable that their Lordships should know what preparations had been made by Her Majesty's Government to occupy the best stations for taking the observations, and also whether the methods would be adopted which were most suitable to the places which had been selected. It was stated some time ago that only five stations were to be occupied by this country. He believed he was right in saying that the number had since been increased; but he must add that there was a prevalent opinion that this country had declined to occupy stations of importance on the ground that the attempt would be too arduous and difficult—while the Government of the United States had undertaken in the interests of science to do what the British Government supposed to be surrounded with insurmountable difficulties. He could only hope that such was not the case, but that if stations had been abandoned it was for other reasons than that they were difficult of access, or difficult to occupy. He alluded to stations in the Southern Ocean—especially the Crozet Islands and Macdonald's Island. Then, as regarded the methods of observation, he believed it was first proposed to adopt the method of Delisle only, which was concerned with the absolute time of the beginning or ending of the transit; but there was also the method of Halley, which referred to the duration of the transit; and some stations, as their Lordships probably knew, were more suitable 1476 for the one method than the other. As it was in the interests of science that these observations should be carried on in concurrence with other Governments, he would, therefore, ask Her Majesty's Government to lay upon the Table of the House, the Correspondence showing what steps had been taken by Foreign Governments.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
said, that parties of the Royal Engineers, the Royal Marine Artillery, and the Royal Artillery had already started for various stations, having' been previously instructed by the Astronomer Royal, whose instructions had been revised by two other astronomers, who were members of the Royal Society. The parties were five in number. One, which was not to start till October, would go to Egypt; the others would go to Kerguelen Island, New Zealand, Cape de Verd, and the Sandwich Islands. Three men-of-war would meet the parties at the Cape and take them to their destination. He could not answer his noble Friend's astronomical question as to the methods to be adopted; but he assumed that the instructions that had been given had been carefully considered. As to the Correspondence, he must leave that part of the general inquiry to be answered by his noble Friend the Foreign Secretary.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
said, there was very little Correspondence on the subject—in fact, scarcely any. He found that the Government of the United States had asked that facilities should be afforded to the American expeditions for making observations in the Australian Colonies; and the Government of Germany had been placed by our Government in direct communication with the Astronomer Royal, with the view to the adoption of some common mode of procedure. If his noble Friend thought it worth while to move for the Papers, there would be no objection to their production; but he doubted that they contained any information that made their production desirable.