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The RAS Venus Newspaper Competition for Schools, 2004


The competition was organized and assessed by the RAS Education Committee

The winners are:

  • 7–11 Years: First Prize - The Mary Bradburn Prize:
    Sulivan Primary School, London: The Sulivan Observatory (Year 4/5 - Gifted & Talented Group, Mrs Baiba Murphy) Joint Second Prize:
    Clayton CE Primary School, Clayton, Bradford: Dot on the Sunscape (Class 6P, Miss Janet Fletcher)
    South Green Junior School, Billericay, Essex: South Green Star (Newspaper Team, Mrs Jane Granby)
  • 11–14 Years: First Prize:
    Clifton Comprehensive School, Rotherham: The Clifton Cosmos (Group 7.7, Mr Tim Mills) Joint Second Prize:
    The Cheltenham Ladies' College, Cheltenham: CLC Independent (Sarah Tallet-Williams, Mrs Jackie Adams)
    Devonport High School for Boys, Plymouth: World in Words (Andrew Sothcott, Mr Andy Pugh)
    Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni, Fleur de Lys, Blackwood: The Daily Reflection (Class 9 Set 1A, Mrs Cerian Angharad)
  • 14–16 Years: First Prize:
    The Perse School for Girls, Cambridge: Our Twin, Venus (Zoë Monnier-Hovell, Mrs G Dambaza) Second Prize:
    Ashby School, Ashby de la Zouch: Mad Scientist Weekly (Class 11 St 2 Gp 1, Mr Adam Linnik)
  • Overseas Guest Entries: First Prize:
    Chettinad Vidy Ashram School, Chennai, Tamilnadu, India: Times of Venus (Groups VI 'I' & 'D', Mr G Bhuvaneshwari) Second Prize:
    Mallya Aditi International School, Yelahanka, Bangalore, India: The Evening Star News (Avirukt Mittal, Ms Beena Babu)

In total of 50 schools made 101 entries.


The Original Competition:



Venus is the brightest planet in the sky. Sometimes it is so bright that it looks like an aircraft landing or is reported as an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO)!

Venus has always fascinated people on Earth. The Babylonians and Sumerians recorded the days when it appeared in the morning or evening sky. The Ancient Greeks linked it with their goddess Aphrodite. Later the Romans linked the myths of Aphrodite to Venus, their goddess of love and beauty.

Although Venus is our sister planet, it is a desolate world. The surface temperature is so high that the metal lead would melt there! The climate of Venus is a warning to us about what can happen to a planet when global warming runs out of control!!

On the 8th June 2004, Venus will cross the face of the Sun. This is a very rare event. Only six transits have taken place since the invention of the telescope almost 400 years ago. The first recorded observations were made in 1639 by Jeremiah Horrocks at Hoole in Lancashire. His observations showed that the Sun was several times further away than previously thought. He was assisted in his calculations by William Crabtree, an old boy of the Manchester Grammar School. They worked together to improve the astronomical data tables and were rewarded by seeing the transit on the day they predicted. (A good example of the scientific method in action for those doing SC1 investigations!) For the transit of 1769, Captain James Cook took a 'party of gentlemen' from the Royal Society in London to the Pacific Island of Tahiti. The last transits of Venus occured in 1874 and 1883.

This year's transit will be visible from all parts of the UK, weather permitting! If it's cloudy, the web will be a source of images.
Warning!! Never look at the Sun directly. Never look at the Sun through an optical instrument.


The Competition:

Our highly successful interdisciplinary competition has been running for seven years. It is an excellent opportunity to forge cross-curricular links and to use the Internet and your library to search for material.

This year, we invite school pupils to create a newspaper or write a feature article to mark this very special event – the Transit of Venus.

The Newspaper Competition is open to pupils in the age ranges 7-11 and 11-14 years.

The Feature Article Competition is open to pupils in the age ranges 14-16 and 16-19 years.

Groups or committed individuals may enter, but based on past experience, we strongly recommend that the Newspaper Competition be undertaken by groups of pupils. We cannot accept more than two entries per class.

A winning Newspaper Entry is likely to contain:

  • A good, relevant, witty headline and lead story.
  • Reports on
    • the mythology of Venus.
    • early scientific observations of transits of Venus and what was discovered.
    • reports of your observations of the 8th June 2004 transit. (Optional)
    • the hazards a spacecraft would face in space and on the surface of Venus.
    • experiments that could be carried out on the surface of Venus.
    • the possibility of returning a sample of the surface to Earth.
    • what we know about the surface geology of Venus from radar maps and landers.
    • how the climate of Venus is an example of global warming.
  • An illustration showing the surface detail of Venus.
  • A cartoon about the event.
  • An original poem about the event.
  • One or two advertisements related to Venus exploration.
  • The reactions of people in the street to the transit event.
  • One or two other events that occurred on the day of the transit.

A winning Feature Article Entry is also likely to include many of the points mentioned above. The article must be not more than 2000 words long, must contain diagrams and/or images, and should be in the style of magazines such as Astronomy Now or New Scientist.

Key points to remember:

  • For the Newspaper:
    • Lay out your material in the style of a modern newspaper.
    • Cover 4 sides of A4 if desktop published, or four sides of A3 if largely hand-written.
    • Put the names of the contributors at the top of each article.
  • For the Feature Article:
    • Lay out in the style of magazines such as Astronomy Now or New Scientist.
    • Write no more than 2000 words.
    • Acknowledge any sources that you used to create your article.
  • Enclose a suitable stamped addressed envelope if you want your work returned.

On the front page of your entry you must include:

  1. Name and address (including postcode) of your School.
  2. Email address and telephone number of your School.
  3. Name of your class or group if appropriate.
  4. Age Range (7-11, 11-14, 14-16, or 16-19 years).
  5. Full name of your teacher (e.g., Ms Jane Smith; Mr John Jones).
  6. A signed declaration by your teacher that:
    • the selection of existing material was done by the group or individual; and
    • all original material, design, and layout was the work of the group or individual.

The first prize in each age group will include a Redshift 5 CD-ROM donated by Focus Multimedia. There will also be certificates and a range of astronomy books.

There is no entry form. The decision of the judges is final and the results will be announced on the RAS web site ( at the end of September. Winners will be informed by post.

The competition is organized by the Education Committee of the Royal Astronomical Society. Send your entry, to arrive by 2004 September 10, to:

Venus Competition, Royal Astronomical Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BQ.

This information is available for download as an 18k pdf file.