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Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens Hardcover – 10 May 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann; First Edition edition (10 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434021083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434021086
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3.3 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 568,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrea Wulf was born India, moved to Germany as a child, and now lives in Britain. She is the author of several books. Her book "Brother Gardeners" won the American Horticultural Society 2010 Book Award and was long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2008. The "Founding Gardeners" was published under great acclaim in spring 2011 and made it on the New York Times Best Seller List. Andrea has written for many newspapers including the Guardian, the LA Times and the New York Times. She was the Eccles British Library Writer in Residence 2013 and a three-time fellow of the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello. She is also appears regularly NPR in the US, and on BBC radio and TV programmes in the UK.

Product Description

Review

"Andrea Wulf's story of the chase is an enthralling, nail-biting thriller and will undoubtedly prove one of the non-fiction books of the year. Even if you fail to see the Transit, don't miss this wonderful book," (John Harding Daily Mail)

"A fine example of scientific storytelling about astronomers of the Enlightenment observing the transit of Venus. Publishers got hot for science writing when Longitude by Dava Sobel took off unexpectedly as a long-term bestseller…Andrea Wulf’s story of how astronomers of the Enlightenment hoped to measure the distance from the Earth to the Sun by observing the transit of Venus internationally on June 6, 1761, and again on June 3, 1769, is another fine example of such scientific storytelling…From the original inspiration of Edmund Halley that led to the active co-operation of Captain Cook, Benjamin Franklin and even Catherine the Great, the enterprise is narrated with elegant expertise." (Iain Finlayson The Times)

"Historian Andrea Wulf’s Chasing Venus is beautifully paced, alternating between expe­ditions, with lush descriptions of the often arduous journeys involved." (Nature)

"Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens takes us first to the year 1761 and the phenomena that is a transit of Venus. It charts the story of a truly international effort; to not only observe the transit of 6 June 1761 and indeed its partner of 3 June 1769, but to present the real quest that was to finally determine the distance between the Earth and the Sun. The author weaves parallel stories involving the French and British expeditions, but makes sure that other delegations from Sweden, Germany, Italy and Russia are given a fair airing. Through this platform we meet the real characters. As political leaders try to prevent bloodshed on battlefields and carnage in capitals, the global scientific community, more appropriately philosophers and astronomers, contemplate their task in the dawn of enlightenment… [an] outstanding book! It's the book of the year so far – do not miss it!" (Astronomy Now)

"[a] truly excellent book…Andrea Wulf tell[s] the rip-roaring tales of numerous expeditions that set off around the globe to observe the Venusian transit of 1761…[She] communicate[s] the verve and energy – not to mention the perilous nature – of the expeditions." (Marcus Chown New Scientist)

Book Description

The fascinating story of the world's first international scientific collaboration.

Inside This Book

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas J. Martin on 19 Jun. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the eighteenth century astronmers knew the distances of all the planets from the Sun relative to the distance of the Earth from the Sun but what the actual distance was remained shrouded in uncertainty. The great astronmer, Edmund Halley in 1716 proposed a solution, an international cooperative venture to go to widely separated points on the Earth and measure the position of Venus as it crossed in front of the Sun's disc from . This sounds simple but in the eighteenth century travel to remote places was a major undertaking.
There were only two dates that century when the transit would happen, 6 June 1761 and 4 June 1768.
Andrea Wulf brings to life the human cost of the mission You feel the determination of the french astronomer Delisle to organise the first ever international cooperative scientific enterprise in a time of a major European war, the struggles of observers from different nations to reach remote places from Lapland to Tahiti in time for the transits. You can suffer with observers as they battle with minus 40C temperatures to tranport pendulum closks, telescopes and portable observatories to Siberia or Hudson Bay. Other astronomers dodge hostile warships in voyages to the south seas. The luckless Le Gentil was clouded out on the first transit, waited eight years for the next and was clouded out again. He returned to France to find he had been declared dead and his estate divided up by his heirs. The determined Chappe d'Auteroche observed the transit from a typhus stricken mission in Mexico and died after completing his measurements.
The book is written with real literary flair. It will prove fascinating reading to anyone interested in astronomy or the history of Science.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Adrian Stear on 8 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this rather a catalog of explorers travelling to distant parts of the world being fated by weather from making good observations. Not as good as her earlier books...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ann mabey on 5 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My husband was delighted with this book and said that it dealt with a complex subject very well. It arrived quickly and was greatly appreciated.
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By Paul G. Brewer on 1 Oct. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nice item
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
Fascinating story of international scientific cooperation 3 May 2014
By John Buflod - Published on Amazon.com
First, the audio book was well read.

Second, the story itself was really interesting, about how scientists from all across the world worked together to observe a critical piece of scientific information. However, I would have enjoyed a bit more about the actual science behind their observations, particularly about why certain locations were more desirable, and why so many disparate observations were needed, as well as how they were located by astronomers in the first place.

That being said, I definitely enjoyed listening to this book and I learned a great deal about a unique bit of history.
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