On June 3, 1769, the planet Venus briefly passed across the face of the sun in a cosmic alignment that occurs only twice in a century. Anticipation of the event sparked a competition among various nations, each sending their own scientific expeditions to dangerous and far-flung destinations to time the Venus transit and glean the physical dimensions of the solar system, a benchmark that could help refine such navigational puzzles as measuring longitude at sea. Mark Anderson's fast-paced narrative chronicles three such voyages—to the heart of the Arctic, to the New World, and to the Pacific—that risked every mortal peril in a candlelit age.
"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'."—Kirkus Reviews