Hōkūloa: The British 1874 Transit of Venus Expedition to Hawai'i
Hardcover, 262 pp.
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.