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Hōkūloa: The British 1874 Transit of Venus Expedition to Hawaiʻi


Spanning several centuries and connecting two distant (and very different) island nations, Hōkūloa provokes political and military maneuvering, confronts death and disappointment, descends into madness, and rises to heroism—all in pursuit of what was considered the most important astronomical observation of the nineteenth century—a transit of Venus that would yield calculation of the elusive astronomical unit (AU). Exactly how far was the sun from Earth? And could an eclipse-like “transit” of the sun by Venus reveal the answer? Superbly crafted and authoritative in every detail, Hōkūloa is a fascinating examination of Hawaiʻi and Britain’s bond in astronomical research history. 

“An excellent book . . . full of original material . . . . It uses primary archival information to deal with a topic pretty well untouched in the scholarly literature.” 
—Dr. Allan Chapman, F.R.A.S., Faculty of Modern History, Oxford University

“A scholarly, well-documented treatise written in a pleasing style readily understandable by laymen as well as being of special interest to professional astronomers and historians of science.”
—Dr. Dorrit Hoffleit, Department of Astronomy, Yale University

“In his Hōkūloa, Michael Chauvin . . . has pieced together insiders' views of one of the most elaborate and expensive scientific expeditions of the 19th century. His keen perceptions of the physical and cultural scene in Hawaiʻi are evident in the sections describing the on-site work . . . [and] the text is lucid and readable . . . a topical, 35-chapter narrative that builds dramatically toward the event.”
—Dr. Gordon Bigelow, The Pacific Circle

Written by Michael Chauvin
Date of Publication: 2004
Size: 6 x 9 in.
Pages: 262
Binding: cloth
ISBN: 9781581780239