Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens

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Alfred A. Knopf, 2012 - Science - 304 pages
20 Reviews

The author of the highly acclaimedFounding Gardenersnow gives us an enlightening chronicle of the first truly international scientific endeavor—the eighteenth-century quest to observe the transit of Venus and measure the solar system.
   On June 6, 1761, the world paused to observe a momentous occasion: the first transit of Venus between the earth and the sun in more than a century. Through that observation, astronomers could calculate the size of the solar system—but only if they could compile data from many different points of the globe, all recorded during the short period of the transit. Overcoming incredible odds and political strife, astronomers from Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Sweden, and the American colonies set up observatories in remote corners of the world, only to have their efforts thwarted by unpredictable weather and warring armies. Fortunately, transits of Venus occur in pairs: eight years later, the scientists would have another opportunity to succeed.
   Chasing Venusbrings to life the personalities of the eighteenth-century astronomers who embarked upon this complex and essential scientific venture, painting a vivid portrait of the collaborations, the rivalries, and the volatile international politics that hindered them at every turn. In the end, what they accomplished would change our conception of the universe and would forever alter the nature of scientific research.

  

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Review: Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens

User Review  - David West - Goodreads

Fascinating story of the two transits of Venus in the 1700's, that enabled science to measure within 1-2% the size of the solar system; more accurately the distance from the earth to the sun, also known as the "astronomical unit" or "AU". Read full review

Review: Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens

User Review  - Kelly Korby - Goodreads

Very interesting book about a topic I never had heard of before.Several nations sending out different astronomers to view the transit of Venus simultaneously in the 18th century. The individual ... Read full review

Contents

Britain Enters the Race
31
4
42
5
52
Day of Transit 6 June 1761
68
9
103
Russia Enters the Race
111
10
118
Scandinavia or the Land of the Midnight Sun
133
The North American Continent
141
13
155
Day of lransit 3 june 1769
175
After the Transit
189
A New Dawn
207
Selected Bibliography Sources and Abbreviations 2 17
217
47
246
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Andrea Wulf was born in India and moved to Germany as a child. She lives in London, where she trained as a design historian at the Royal College of Art. She is the author of The Brother Gardeners, long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2008 and winner of the American Horticultural Society 2010 Book Award, and of Founding Gardeners; she is also the coauthor (with Emma Gieben-Gamal) of This Other Eden: Seven Great Gardens and 300 Years of English History. She has written for The Sunday Times, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times, and she reviews for several newspapers, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Times Literary Supplement.

www.andreawulf.com

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