An acclaimed new book racing with explorers and scientists to the ends of the earth in 1769 as they chase the planet Venus and unlock great secrets behind the sky. THE DAY THE WORLD DISCOVERED THE SUN tells a "truly excellent" (New Scientist) "scientific adventure tale" (Kirkus) that "vividly recreates the torturous explorations and enthralling discovery of three peripatetic and insatiably curious explorers.” (Publishers Weekly)
WBUR’s Radio Boston today featured a piece on the 1769 Venus transit voyages and the remarkable accomplishments of the first “big science” project in human history
"In his new book, The Day The World Discovered The Sun, Anderson writes about the global chase to find the best places to measure the transit of Venus, an “Amazing Race”, 18th century style. He focuses on three scientific teams led by three unique men: France’s Jean-Baptiste Chappe; England’s Captain James Cook; and Vienna’s Father Maximilian Hell.
"The data they gathered came at a high cost. Lives were lost. But it achieved its ultimate goal. In 1771, astronomer Thomas Hornby collated the findings and first estimated the distance between the Earth and sun: 93,726,900 miles.
"He was off by less than 0.5 percent.
"“No one had ever traveled faster than the speed of the fastest horse. No one had been higher off the ground than the tallest cathedral spire,” said Anderson. “And yet they were able to inch out a measuring line into the solar system, and mark out the distance to the sun from all the planets with greater than 99-percent accuracy. It’s quite a testimonial to how the human spirit to know, and to come to know our world endures.””