Review of Transit of Venus: 1631 to the present, by Nick Lomb, published by University of New South Wales Press of Kensington, New South Wales, Australia in 2011.
CITATION: Lomb, N. (2011). Transit of Venus: 1631 to the present. Kensington, N.S.W: University of New South Wales Press.
Reviewer: Dr W. P. Palmer
This book was written as a preparation for the last transit of Venus to be visible from Earth during the twenty first century and it took place on 6th June, 2012 (the reviewer's birthday). Australia was one place on earth where the full transit was visible, which may account for the great public interest that was aroused here. One does not have to be an astronomer to have found this a historically significant and fascinating event. This book tells the story of people from many nations who have tried to observe the transit of Venus, some successfully and some unsuccessfully. The format of the book is almost square with sides of about 23 centimetres. The illustration is prolific with both black and white and colour photographs and sketches. The large size format allows plenty of room for this purpose and many of the photographs used are important historically. The book has 227 pages that include an index, a glossary and a bibliography. The front cover shows a dramatic picture of the transit of Venus with the relative size of Venus being greatly exaggerated compared to the sun. There are two sets of text; firstly there is a continuous story in a larger font and this is interrupted by the many photos and the text explaining these photos in a smaller font. The net result is to lose continuity, though it is a difficult problem to solve.
The first transit of Venus was observed by Jeremiah Horrocks in England on 6th December 1639 and he wrote an account of his observations. He had advised his friend, William Crabtree of the event and they were the first men to observe a transit of Venus as far as is known. Each successive transit was observed until the present day and Lomb describes the attempts to observe it. He produces a very interesting story of human, patience, endurance and courage. Even though few human beings alive today are likely to see the next transit in 2117, the book is well worth reading from cover as it is full of fascinating information. The book is thoroughly recommended.