In the nineteenth century, the British Government spent money measuring the distance between the earth and the sun using observations of the transit of Venus. This book presents a narrative of the two Victorian transit programmes. It draws out their cultural significance and explores the nature of "big science" in late-Victorian Britain.
Table of ContentsCover Half Title Title Copyright Contents Acknowledgements List of Illustrations Introduction Summary of the Chapters 1. The Precedent: Transit of Venus Expeditions in 1761 and 1769 The Historical Precedent 2. Big Science in Britain c. 1815-70 The Magnetic Crusades: The Bigger Science Between the Two Transits Admiralty Science and the Reform Movement Airy's Greenwich and its Place in the Historiography 3. Noble Science, Noble Nation: The Establishment of Transit Programmes in Britain and Abroad Edward Stone, the Black Drop Effect and the Transit of Mercury in 1868 The Transit Proposal in Parliament The International Picture: Transit Programmes Abroad Situating the Observation Stations Britain's Scientific Honour, the Press and the Airy-Proctor Debate 4. Inside Greenwich: The Preparations for 1874 Warren De La Rue and the Photographic Plan Precision Astronomical Photography in the Wet-Plate Era Programme Design as a National Product The Telescopic Plan: Modelling the Transit of Venus Artificial Black Drop Experiments Training the Observers Model Training versus Personal Equation Measures The International Melee 5. The Expeditions Establishing the Observation Stations: The Case of Cairo Environment, Local Time and Latitude: Work Routines at the Stations Longitude Experiments Lindsay and Gill's Chronometric Trials Browne's Experiment in Submarine Telegraphy The Day of the Transit: 8-9 December 1874 The Transit of Venus Observed in Cairo Worldwide Spectacle: The Day of the Transit in the Press 6. The Outcome Airy's International Proposal for Reducing the Observations Calculating Parallax in 1874 versus 1769 The Plan to Measure the Photographs The Mist of Words Financial Crisis 'Casting' Phases and 'Doctoring' Results Deciding that Photography had Failed The Official Publication and the Retirement of the Astronomer Royal Outcomes and Results Beyond Greenwich Measurement in Late Victorian Science National Science, Growth and Progress Epilogue: The Transit of 1882 Change of Leadership and Loss of Resources The Question of International Cooperation The New Instructions to Observers The Longitude Work and the Loss of Admiralty Patronage The Expeditions The Outcome The Transit Enterprise, International Cooperation and Precision Astronomical Photography Notes Works Cited Index