I'm an astronomy buff, but not necessarily a history-of-astronomy buff, and I admit that I wasn't sure that the beginning of solar astronomy really warranted a whole book -- weren't there more exciting topics in astronomy to spend my time on? But I loved this book. There were so many pieces to this story that I had been unaware of. First of all, I appreciate the incongruity of the fact that solar science was led by observatories in England -- not the natural location for such things, it seems. But more importantly, this is the story of the connection
between our lives here on earth and an astronomical body far far away. Yes, we knew the sun gave us light and therefore life. But connecting specific events in the solar atmosphere to, say, crop prices here on Earth... that was truly revolutionary. All of a sudden outer space seemed not so far away -- the book brings the magic of that realization home. Something I take for granted was once unthinkable, and this book recreates the discovery for me.
This is in an intriguing story and it's truly well-written. I read it through in a couple sittings as though it were a novel. It's so closely modeled on Dava Sobel's writing that I sometimes forgot which book I was reading and heard her voice in my head (not that I know her voice -- I've just read her stuff), but that's not such a bad thing since she's a great science writer.