The Transit Of Venus And Parallax : Short Wave In the 18th century the world was focused on Venus. Expeditions were launched in pursuit of exact measurements of Venus as it passed between Earth and the Sun. By viewing its journey and location on the Sun's surface, scientists hoped to make a massive leap in scientific knowledge. With a little help from math, Scientist in Residence Regina G. Barber recounts how humanity came closer to understanding our cosmic address — and relative distances to other planets — in the solar system.

You can follow Regina on Twitter @ScienceRegina. Email Short Wave at ShortWave@NPR.org.

Venus And The 18th Century Space Race

Venus And The 18th Century Space Race

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In this composite image provided by NASA, the SDO satellite captures the path sequence of the transit of Venus across the face of the sun on June 5-6, 2012 as seen from space. The next pair of events will not happen again until the year 2117 and 2125. NASA/Getty Images hide caption

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NASA/Getty Images

In this composite image provided by NASA, the SDO satellite captures the path sequence of the transit of Venus across the face of the sun on June 5-6, 2012 as seen from space. The next pair of events will not happen again until the year 2117 and 2125.

NASA/Getty Images

In the 18th century the world was focused on Venus. Expeditions were launched in pursuit of exact measurements of Venus as it passed between Earth and the Sun. By viewing its journey and location on the Sun's surface, scientists hoped to make a massive leap in scientific knowledge. With a little help from math, Scientist in Residence Regina G. Barber recounts how humanity came closer to understanding our cosmic address — and relative distances to other planets — in the solar system.

You can follow Regina on Twitter @ScienceRegina. Email Short Wave at ShortWave@NPR.org.

This episode was produced by Thomas Lu and edited by Rebecca Ramirez, Gabriel Spitzer and our Senior Supervising Editor Gisele Grayson. It was fact-checked by Rachel Carlson. The audio engineer for this episode was Josh Newell.