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The Transit of Venus

The Quest to Find the True Distance of the Sun

David Sellers


Format: Paperback

Size: 234 mm x 156 mm (Royal)

Pages: 222

ISBN: 0954101308

Published: 14 December 2001














Price: £12.95

(post free in UK)



About this book


This unusual book tells the fascinating story of attempts to measure the distance of the Sun - from earliest times to the age of radar.


The crucial role of the transit of Venus in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is described in detail. The use of oppositions of Mars and close passages of asteroids is also covered.


Woven into the story is an explanation of each of the key pieces of evidence, which allows us to say that we truly know the distance of the Sun.


The famous 1716 essay of Edmond Halley, exhorting future astronomers to observe the 1761 and 1769 transits, is included as an appendix to the book. This is probably the first time for almost 200 years that the full English translation has appeared in print.


The book is comprehensively illustrated, with 48 half-tones and 33 line drawings. Maps and tables showing the local circumstances of the forthcoming 2004 and 2012 transits of Venus are provided.


Read Introduction


What reviewers said


New Scientist (19 January 2002) - Prof David Hughes


"David Sellers has produced a thoroughly engaging and well illustrated tale of the hunt for the accurate AU"


 Journal of the British Astronomical Association (April  2002) - Bob Steele


"This work has great appeal in the depth of its story telling and in the general accuracy and quality of the text .. It is the result of the author's research into many primary historical sources and such credentials lift the book in sheer quality and interest above other popular accounts of transits that I have read lately."


 Federation of Astronomical Societies Newsletter (Spring 2002) - Callum Potter


"... an excellent book, providing an interesting perspective on one aspect of astronomical endeavour through the centuries. I would heartily recommend it."


Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage (June 2002) – Dr Wayne Orchiston


“David Sellers has done an excellent job … Sellers writes in an entertaining style , which makes this book enjoyable reading … I found shades of Sobel’s Longitude in Sellers’ book. I hope it, too, will reach and be appreciated by a wide lay audience, but can also recommend it for historians of astronomy, especially those seeking an easy-going refresher course of preparation for 2004 and 2012.”


Astronomy Now (August 2002) - Alan Drummond


"... this is both a timely and a well-written history. Recommended to anyone with an interest in historical astronomy."


School Science Review (September 2002) – AD Ellison


"I found this book a fascinating read ... This book deserves a place in every sixth-form and FE college library."


The Observatory (October 2002) – Dave Pike


“The next two transits of Venus are in 2004 and 2012 … Anyone having read this book beforehand will be in a good position to enjoy the spectacle with the added benefit of being able to ponder and appreciate their role in solving one of the most basic astronomical questions.”


Popular Astronomy (October-December 2002) – David Graham


"... a most engaging narrative … The reviewer rarely gets the time to sit down and read a book from cover to cover, but having embarked upon The Transit of Venus [I] was so absorbed as to be unable to put it down."





Email: sales@magavelda.co.uk

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