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Chasing Venus, The Race to Measure the Heavens
by Andrea Wulf
- 324 PAGES
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 to measure on June 6, 1761 the first transit Venus between the Earth and the Sun in more than a century -- only to have their efforts thwarted by unpredictable weather and warring armies. Fortunately, transits of Venus occur in pairs: eight years later, the scientists were given a second chance to get it right. Chasing Venus brings to life this extraordinary endeavor: the personalities of eighteenth-century astronomy, the collaborations, discoveries, personal rivalries, volatile international politics, and the race to be first to measure the distances between the planets.