Weather vane for church

Jeremiah Horrocks observing the Transit of Venus. Credit: Astley Museum, Chorley

Jeremiah Horrocks observing the Transit of Venus. Credit: Astley Museum, Chorley

Parishoners and villagers have joined together to pay for a weather vane dedicated to father of modern astronomy, Jeremiah Horrocks.

Horrocks was tutor to the Stones family at Carr House in Much Hoole and also Bible Clerk at the comparatively new church of nearby St Michael and All Angels when he became the first man to observe the transit of Venus on November 24, 1639.

The Transit of Venus happens every 110 years, then eight years later. In recent years we have seen it happen in 2004 and 2012, and it will not recur until 2117.

At the time of the 2012 transit, Rev Derek Baines of St Michael and All Angels Church, along with churchwarden Eric Barker, decided to mark the occasion.

They set about raising £4.000 for a 6ft steel and copper weather vane that will be erected on top of the church tower.

Mr Barker said: “When we saw the last Transit, we thought it would be nice to do something to commemorate it, as we won’t see another in our lifetimes.

“We chose a weather vane because a lot of the other things we have for Jeremiah Horrocks can’t be seen from outside the church. For example, the stained glass window and the chancel are inside, whereas this will be able to be seen for some distance.

“Also, when we fly a flag from the flag pole at the top of the tower, it requires us going through three trap doors and up vertical ladders, and none of us are getting any younger.

“Now we’re going to have a free-standing flag pole, with the weather vane replacing the original on top of the tower.”

The weather vane, which is currently in production, will have a depiction of a sun with the black spot of Venus.

It will be dedicated by the Bishop of Blackburn, the Right Reverend Julian Henderson, at a service on Sunday, April 6. It is hoped that it will be erected on top of the tower by then.

Rev Baines said: “There has been a fantastic response from parishioners and from people in the local community to raise the funds in 12 months.”

Jeremiah Horrocks died aged 22 from an unknown illness on January 3, 1641.

He is remembered on a plaque in Westminster Abbey and the lunar crater Horrocks is named after him.

As well as observing the Transit of Venus, he was also the first person to demonstrate that the moon moved around the earth in an elliptical orbit.




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