"Chasing Venus. The Race to Measure the Heavens"
CHASING VENUS tells the extraordinary story of the first global scientific collaboration, set amid warring armies, hurricanes, scientific endeavour and personal tragedy.
On 6 June 1761 and 3 June 1769 the planet Venus passed between Earth and Sun – each time visible as a small black dot against the burning face of the Sun for six hours. Transits of Venus always arrive in pairs – eight years apart – but then it takes more than a century before they are seen again. In the 1760s the world’s scientific community was electrified because the transit would allow them for the first time to calculate the distance between the planets in our solar system. This would require triangulated data to be compiled from various exact points dotted all around the four corners of the globe – all taken simultaneously during the short period of the actual Transit.
Hundreds of astronomers from European countries and the North American colonies were dispatched across the world to observe the rare celestial encounter. At a time when war was tearing Europe and much of the rest of the world apart, they overcame political, geographical and intellectual boundaries.
CHASING VENUS is told as a race across the world. Rich with tales of obsession, and featuring pirates, plagues, astronomers and scientists including Catherine the Great and Benjamin Franklin, CHASING VENUS bursts with action, wonderful detail and scientific excitement, revealing the spirit of the Enlightenment and man’s quest to understand the world.
The book will be published in May 2012 in conjunction of the Transit of Venus on 5/6 June 2012.
Published in the UK by William Heinemann; in the US by Knopf; in Germany by C.Bertelsmann; in the Netherlands by Athenaeum–Polak & Van Gennep; in Sweden by Leopard; in Italy by Ponte alle Grazie; in Brazil by Paz e Terra; in Japan by Kadokawa.
If you’re interested to host a talk about "Chasing Venus", please contact me on aw (at) andreawulf.com for possible dates, fees and more information.
Reviews for "Chasing Venus"
“Thrilling book … absorbing … exciting”, The Independent
"Andrea Wulf's engrossing history is a fitting tribute", Mail on Sunday
"Andrea Wulf's stirring history of Venus-gazing shows astronomy at its most adventurous and heroic … like an astonishing pre-Verne Around the World in Eighty Days ... a thrilling, stirring tale, very well told", The Guardian
"Andrea Wulf's story of the chase is an enthralling, nail-biting thriller and will undoubtedly prove one of the non-fiction books of the year. Even if you fail to see the Transit, don't miss this wonderful book," Daily Mail
"Entertaining tale … tastefully … Chasing Venus captures the spirit of adventure and the wonder … a pleasure to read from beginning to end", BBC Sky at Night Magazine
"But the 18th century stargazers whom Andrea Wulf chronicles in “Chasing Venus” proved themselves a different sort. Their exploits would put Indiana Jones to shame … appealing mix of science and travel … Wulf writes with enthusiasm … and marvelous concision over the 200 pages of her text. Better yet, she explains complex scientific phenomena in clear, layperson’s terms: Here is a book both astrophysicists and poets can understand," Boston Globe
“Replete with meticulous detail, delightful illustrations and a cast of very familiar names from world history, Chasing Venus is an eminently readable account of humanity’s effort to chart the heavens. At once an exhilarating adventure, a tale of personal obsession, a tragedy and a detailed history of astronomical endeavour, Wulf’s latest work is a fascinating read.” Press Association syndicated review
"Lovely book ... magisterial Chasing Venus," The Guardian
‘An extraordinary book …astonishing brio … enthrallingly written story. Andrea Wulf’s book is setting standards’, Journal für Astronomie (Journal for Astronomie)
"The result is a human story, and it’s worth reading as a rallying call to humanity’s quest to explore the universe simply for the sake of it", Daily Telegraph
“[Wulf’s] feeling for personality and her attention to both the scientific records and to the astronomers’ journals brings their exploits to life as both scientific exploration and adventurous derring-do … enticing tale … “Chasing Venus” effectively dramatizes an important moment in the history of science”, Washington Times
“Chasing Venus is beautifully paced, alternating between expeditions, with lush descriptions of the often arduous journeys involved,” Nature (Owen Gingerich)
"Andrea Wulf's immaculately researched book describes the endeavours of the early scientific community to observe the transit around the world ... an absorbing, even exciting yarn", The Lady
“Truly excellent … rip-roaring tales of the numerous expeditions that set off around the globe to observe the Venusian transit of 1761 …communicate[s] the verve and energy - not to mention the perilous nature - of the expeditions.”, New Scientist
“More typical of a globetrotting thriller than a history book … These moments of danger … keep the reader turning pages with an eagerness worthy of Wulf's characters themselves. Chasing Venus presents the history of science at its most fascinating — and most adventurous,” Nashville Scene and Chapter 16
“[An] enthusiastic account. . . . With the next transit predicted for June 6, 2012, Wulf’s well-handled history arrives in a timely manner,” Booklist
“A fine example of scientific storytelling … narrated with elegant expertise.”, The Times
“Outstanding book! It's the book of the year so far – do not miss it!”, Astronomy Now
“Lively narrative … like a nonfiction National Treasure with myriads of Nicholas Cages darting around—in a good way. Enlightening Enlightenment fare” Kirkus Review, Starred Review
“Thrilling tale … a fitting homage … an absorbing account … Wulf’s marvelous eye for detail and talent for simplifying complex science make the book, timed for release a month before the last transit of this century, well worth reading before June”, Associated Press (published in Washington Post, Huffington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star, The Seattle Post Intelligencer amongst many others)
“Andrea Wulf has now chronicled the 18th-century transit expeditions in a narrative light on astronomical detail but rich in personalities and adventures … she does wonderfully sketch the race for scientific, and patriotic, glory,” Dallas Morning Star
"Chasing Venus is a
fascinating read, wonderfully well written, a vivid portrayal of the world of
18th-century science and its interactions with the wider intellectual and
political world of the time. It is extensively researched, with a bibliography
of about 500 items, mostly primary sources, in seven languages (English,
French, German, Latin, Russian, Dutch, and Swedish), and beautifully
illustrated with reproductions of contemporary drawings and portraits. Wulf
makes the excitement of the enterprise and the heroic courage and dedication of
its participants come dramatically alive", SIAM News (Society for Industrial and
“[An] excellent book. . . . Chasing Venus chronicles a rare planetary event that happened at a rare juncture in human history, when the age of empire, the age of science, and the age of curiosity brought the world together for just a few moments—to achieve the measure of the universe.” Brain Pickings