The Day The World Discovered The Sun: An Extraordinary Story of Scientific Adventure and the Race to Track the Transit of Venus
I viewed and photographed the 2012 Venus transit, so this book caught my attention. It deals with the 1761 and 1769 Venus transit of the sun. Why was this important? In 1761, little was known about our world; even less about our solar system. By using some careful measurements of angles, timing the transit, and some complex trigonometry, scientists of the day could measure the distance to the Sun and all the visible planets. Those who were enlightened at the time, including a couple monarchs, became quite excited by the prospect. There was a friendly competition between the countries. Yet it was far more difficult that it sounds. Travel was a dangerous proposition at best and the tools for measuring time were far from accurate. Anderson has written an enjoyable book, filled with adventure, science, and history.
Excerpts From My Kindle
Fortunately, Cassini noted, 1769 provided the world with a second chance. In fact, he calculated, the magnitude of the 1769 parallax–the difference in transit time at the North Pole compared to the equator–and the favorable locations available to observe it would not be duplicated again for a long time. The next three Venus transits–in 1874, 1882, and 2004–wouldn’t offer nearly as propitious an opportunity to those distant future generations as did the most recent alignment of sun and planets. “It won’t be until 2012 that the transit of Venus will be nearly as advantageous as it was in 1769,” he said. – location 3286-90
The Venus transit voyages of 1761 and 1769 represent mankind’s first international “big science” project–a familiar notion in an age of human genome projects, the Hubble space telescope, and the Large Hadron Collider. The transit projects’ closest latter-day cousin, though, was another set of voyages that married advanced science and technology with extreme adventure: NASA’s Apollo program to land men on the moon the 1960s and 1970s. – location 3408-11