On two days—one in 1761 and the other in 1769—hundreds of astronomers prepared to observe a rare astronomical event: the transit of Venus across the face of the sun. Hoping to use the observations to accurately calculate the size of the solar system, several observers raced to the far reaches of the known world to stretch our "point of view" in space as widely as possible, spawning national and personal rivalries as well as scientific cooperation. Also the author of The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World (a New York Times Best Book of 2015), Andrea Wulf paints a vivid portrait of the triumphs and misfortunes that befell these men, as well as their passion and determination.
"A fine example of scientific storytelling about astronomers of the Enlightenment ... narrated with elegant expertise."—Times (London)