The Transit of Venus Enterprise in Victorian Britain
Publisher: Pickering & Chatto Publishers | 2008-03-30 | ISBN: 1851965416 | PDF | 220 pages | 2.1 MB
In the second half of the nineteenth century, the British Government spent a vast amount of money measuring the distance between the earth and the sun using observations of the transit of Venus. Hundreds of expeditions were organized by countries across the globe to collect data on the transits of 1874 and 1882, using the most up-to-date astronomical instruments and new photographic methods.Like the Great Exhibitions which were so popular at the time, the transits of Venus caught the public's imagination. An enthusiastic press presented the events as a vivid symbol of the strength of British science - even though the resulting measurements were found to be no more useful than those produced after the transits of 1761 and 1769.Ratcliff presents a clear and compelling narrative of the two Victorian transit programmes. She draws out their cultural significance and explores the nature of 'big science' in late-Victorian Britain.