"Astronomy is a foundation stone in our self-image as a species, and Parallax does an outstanding job showing us how that stone was laid." — San Francisco Bay Guardian "Compelling? Try kidnapping, mudslinging, and despair, all in the name of the stars." — Kansas City Star "A tale of science at its best." — The Boston Globe This lively history of the struggle to measure the distance to the stars introduces a memorable cast of historical figures, from ancient Greeks to nineteenth-century scientists. Characters include an impoverished boy, plucked from a collapsed building to become the greatest telescope maker in the world; a hot-tempered Dane who loses his nose in a duel over mathematics; a merchant's apprentice, forced to choose between a lucrative career and his passion for astronomy; and other fascinating individuals. Numerous pictures illuminate the stories, and extensive notes offer suggestions for further reading.