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Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens

by

Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The author of the highly acclaimed Founding Gardeners now 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 Venus brings 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.

Synopsis:

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 the remotest corners of the world, only to be thwarted by unpredictable weather and warring armies. Fortunately, transits of Venus occur in pairs; eight years later, they would have another opportunity to succeed.

 

Chasing Venus brings to life the personalities of the astronomers who embarked upon this complex and essential venture and paints a vivid portrait of the collaborations, the rivalries, and the volatile international politics that hindered them at every turn. Thanks to these scientists, neither our conception of the universe nor the nature of scientific research would ever be the same.

About the Author

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 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, the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times, and she reviews for several newspapers, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Times Literary Supplement.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307744609
Author:
Wulf, Andrea
Publisher:
Vintage Books
Author:
Andrea Wulf
Subject:
Astronomy - General
Subject:
Astronomy
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20130231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
81 ILLUSTRATIONS/4 MAPS
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
8 x 5.2 x 0.7 in 0.7 lb

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Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens New Trade Paper
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Product details 336 pages Vintage Books - English 9780307744609 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , 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 the remotest corners of the world, only to be thwarted by unpredictable weather and warring armies. Fortunately, transits of Venus occur in pairs; eight years later, they would have another opportunity to succeed.

 

Chasing Venus brings to life the personalities of the astronomers who embarked upon this complex and essential venture and paints a vivid portrait of the collaborations, the rivalries, and the volatile international politics that hindered them at every turn. Thanks to these scientists, neither our conception of the universe nor the nature of scientific research would ever be the same.

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