Spencer Lecture – Andrea Wulf: Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens – Thursday, March 7 | 10:30 a.m.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens is delighted to welcome Andrea Wulf for the second year, offering a second lecture in the Spencer Lecture Series to complement Ben Page’s talk. This summer an extremely rare celestial event took place – the transit of Venus. In the eighteenth century the transit held the answer for one of the most pressing questions of the age: the size of the solar system. This would require triangulated data to be compiled from various exact points dotted all around the four corners of the globe – all taken simultaneously during the short period of the actual transit. Hundreds of astronomers from European countries and the North American colonies were dispatched across the world to observe the rare celestial encounter. At a time when war was tearing Europe and much of the rest of the world apart, they overcame political, geographical and intellectual boundaries. CHASING VENUS is rich with tales of obsession, featuring Catherine the Great and Captain Cook as well as Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, Benjamin Franklin and American astronomer David Rittenhouse. In CHASING VENUS, New York Times Best Selling and award-winning author Andrea Wulf tells the extraordinary story of the first global scientific collaboration set amid warring armies, hurricanes, scientific endeavour and personal tragedy. It’s a story bursting with action, wonderful detail and scientific excitement, revealing the spirit of the Enlightenment and man’s quest to understand the world.