Transit of Venus Botany

Today is the transit of Venus, when that planet passes in front of the sun. Hopefully the bad weather blanketing much of New Zealand doesn’t preclude at least some people from observing the event.

Observing the transit was one of Captain Cook’s primary objectives for the Endeavour expedition, and this was done in Tahiti in 1769. But the expedition had other aims as well, including exploration and discovery.

The botanists on board the Endeavour, led by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, collected plant specimens wherever the ship put to shore.

At noon this Friday (8th June 2012), Steve Cafferty from the Natural History Museum, London, will talk about the botanical discoveries made during Cook’s first voyage. Plant specimens collected from New Zealand by Banks and Solander will be on display.

More details.

Silver fern, Cyathea dealbata. Collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, 1769, New Zealand. Te Papa.

Silver fern, Cyathea dealbata. Collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, 1769, New Zealand. Te Papa.

Additionally, Te Papa Research Fellow Patrick Brownsey has just published an article about Banks and Solander’s collecting in New Zealand. The article is free to download from the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand until 31st July 2012.

Abstract of the article.

Te Papa holds over 500 specimens collected by Banks and Solander during the Endeavour expedition. High-resolution images of most of them are freely available from Te Papa’s Collections Online Website.

Collections Online.

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