The Day the World Discovered the Sun: An Extraordinary Story of Scientific Adventure and the Race to Track the Transit of Venus

The Day the World Discovered the Sun: An Extraordinary Story of Scientific Adventure and the Race to Track the Transit of Venus

by Mark Anderson


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780306820380
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Publication date: 05/08/2012
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Mark Anderson is the author of “Shakespeare” By Another Name and has covered science, history, and technology for many media outlets, including Discover and National Public Radio. He holds a BA in physics, an MS in astrophysics, and lives in western Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

1 A Star in the Sun 5

2 The Choicest Wonders 25

3 Flying Bridges 45

4 The Mighty Dimensions 57

5 The Book and the Ship 77

6 Voyage en Californie 97

7 Great Expedition 117

8 Some Unfrequented Part 137

9 A Shining Band 155

10 Fort Venus 163

11 Behind the Sky 177

12 Subjects and Discoveries 187

13 Sail to the Southward 195

14 Eclipse 205

Epilogue 217

Acknowledgments 229

Technical Appendix 231

Notes 241

Index 269

Illustrations follow page 136

What People are Saying About This

Publishers Weekly, 3/19/12
“In this exciting tale—part detective story, part history of science—Anderson (“Shakespeare” by Another Name) vividly recreates the torturous explorations and enthralling discovery of three peripatetic and insatiably curious explorers.”

Kirkus Reviews, 4/15/12
“A scientific adventure tale in which astronomers risk their lives, traveling the high seas in winter, trekking over ice-bound Siberia and facing deadly diseases…A lively, fitting tribute to ‘mankind’s first international ‘big science’ project.’” Northampton Valley Advocate, 3/29/12
“Anderson's prose [is] gleaming with a stout and convincing imagining of the past…An adventure tale that brings to life knowledge that is a touch esoteric, yet was at the center of vital, practical pursuits of the 18th century.” Roanoke Times, 4/8
“An armchair travel adventure.”, 4/20/12
“I can think of no finer reading companion to warm you up for [the transit of Venus] than this week’s review, The Day the World Discovered the Sun…This book reads like a fine historical adventure novel…The book doesn’t back away from the ‘good stuff’ that astronomical history buffs yearn for…A table is included for the mathematically curious, and tales of astronomical intrigue abound.” Booklist, 5/15/12
“A fine combination of popular science and real-life adventure that will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers.” Discover, June 2012
“[An] intense account of efforts to measure the rare celestial event.” New Scientist, May 2012“Truly excellent…Anderson writes as if the reader is on the very shoulders of the adventurers as they sledge across the icy wastes of Siberia or sail across uncharted oceans…communicat[ing] the verve and energy—not to mention the perilous nature—of the expeditions.” Daily Hampshire Gazette, 5/11/12“A rollicking tale of 18th-century scientific exploration and adventure.”

Nature, 5/17/12
“[An] excellent account…Arresting…Anderson serves up a rich broth of details.”

AND Online Magazine, 5/26/12“All three expeditions are compelling, with riveting accounts of the voyages to the far-flung points of observation, and a fast-paced narrative that has you on the edge of your seat, rooting for each of the teams of astronomers to be able to have the opportunity to actually see the transit of Venus on June 3, 1769 without the threat of clouds, broken equipment, dangerous weather, angry natives, or debilitating illness. Anderson weaves the three stories together seamlessly and The Day the World Discovered the Sun is a book about scientific advancement and adventure that is somehow able to avoid being bogged down with the complexities of science.”, 5/28/12“It’s a heck of a yarn—a sort of real-life literal Star Trek from the era of tall ships, terra incognita, and scientific Enlightenment.” Library Journal, 6/1/12“Recommended for casual students of history and astronomy.” Popular Science Online, 6/5/12“From the beginning, you are alongside the famous explorers…Anderson draws on his background in physics as well as a career writing about Elizabethan England to tell the story.” National Geographic Online, 6/5/12“A clever and very entertaining book…an adventure tale, a story of human ‘drive and endurance’ with voyages to the poles and everywhere in between to unlock a scientific mystery.” Desert News, 6/2/12“Reads like a mystery. Anderson describes various astronomical puzzles that each explorer has to piece together in order to form the larger picture…A book that pays tribute to men who are not mentioned in textbooks. It is a book for all people, not just those who are interested in astronomy.” Technology & Society Book Review, 6/4/12“Both an adventure tale and a look back into the history of science.” Winnipeg Free Press, 6/2/12“A worthwhile read for anyone with compatible interests.”
Concord Monitor, 6/10/12“Anderson explores the personalities and politics behind the transit observation expeditions, melding history and science in a fascinating story of the first large-scale international scientific effort…Anderson makes each expedition come alive; the challenges and detours, hopes and hubris… Whether you like science or political intrigue, space or human nature, or simply want to marvel at these men's accomplishments, Anderson delivers.” 

Internet Review of Books, 6/15/12“A wonderful retelling of several intrepid expeditions to the corners of earth in search of a higher human aspiration—scientific truth.”

Midwest Book Review
, August 2012
“A fine guide for any interested in astronomy’s link to mankind’s development.”
Book Review, 6/14/12
“It is rare that a history book can be described as genuinely suspenseful. Anderson’s narrative is exciting; his description of three different expeditions reads like an adventure novel.”

Choice, November 2012“Highly recommended.”, 1/17/13“An entertaining read for anyone interested in astronomy or the history of science.”

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