Posts Tagged ‘astronomer’

CAPTAIN COOK – JOHN HARRISON – CHARLES GREEN: THREE YORKSHIRE MEN WALKED INTO A BAR

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

‘He [John Harrison] wrested the world’s whereabouts from the stars, and locked the secret in a pocket watch’. Dava Sobel, Longitude, Fourth Estate, 1998

Harrison H-4 Chronometer

Since earliest times sea-faring nations such as England, Portugal, France, Spain and the Netherlands vied with each other to solve – the Holy Grail of Navigation – longitude – calculating with precision a ship’s position while at sea beyond sight of land.

1714:  Legislation, The Act of Longitude 1714, followed an enquiry into England’s first recorded 18th century maritime disaster.

In 1707 in heavy weather off the Cornish coast six (6) of Admiral Shovell’s ships lost their bearings and dashed to pieces on the Scilly Isles with the loss of 1500 lives.

Under the 1714 Act a Board of Longitude was established to invite and evaluate submissions and award a prize of £20,000 to whom-so-ever solved the problem of longitude.

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CAPTAIN COOK CAUGHT SHORT 

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

The Royal Society had accepted the recommendation of the Astronomer [Maskelyne] that [Dalrymple] the well-known hydrographer of the Pacific should be chosen as ‘a proper Person to be sent to the South Seas’. H.C. Cameron, Sir Joseph Banks, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1968

The Admiralty would have none of Alexander Dalrymple a Fellow of the Royal Society who Astronomer Royal Nevil Maskelyne adjudged ‘a proper Person to be sent to the South Seas’.

Instead Admiralty chose James Cook a lowly Warrant Officer of the Royal Navy to replace Maskelyne’s choice of Dalrymple as Chief Observer of the Transit of Venus at Tahiti predicted to occur in early June of 1769. See: Malicious Maskelyne 

‘[Cook] Whose remarkable qualities as a seaman and as a navigator and cartographer the Admiralty had learned to value because of his outstanding service in the operation under [General] Wolfe in Canada [Seven Years War 1756-1763]. Cameron. ibid. 

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MALICIOUS MASKELYNE

Monday, August 14th, 2017

1663 – England: In 1663 during the reign of King Charles II (1660-1685) a collection of ‘enquiring men of science’ – the ‘Invisible College’ – morphed into the Royal Society.

A century later under the patronage of King George III between 1760  and 1820 the Society flowered into one of the world’s most celebrated scientific institutions.

1767: With the Transit of Venus in the offing – 3 June 1769 – its second appearance in the decade 1760 the Society petitioned King George III for financial support.

‘The Transit was more than just an astronomical curio, it was the key to a wealth of information about the universe, information that would be seized upon by the intensely curious men of science who characterised the age. Vanessa Collingridge, Captain Cook, The Life, Death and Legacy of History’s Greatest Explorer, Random House, 2003 

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AUSTRALIA – BRITAIN BY A SHORT HALF-HEAD: CAPTAIN ARTHUR PHILLIP & COMTE JEAN-FRANCOISE LA PEROUSE

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

‘From the coast of China it [New Holland] lies not more than about a thousand leagues and nearly the same distance from the East Indies, from the Spice Islands about seven hundred leagues, and near a month’s run from the Cape of Good Hope…or suppose we were again involved  in a war with Spain, here are ports of shelter and refreshment for our ships, should it be necessary to sent any into the South Sea’. Admiral Sir George, Historical Records of New South Wales. Vol.1

Captain Louis Antoine de Bougainville’s A Voyage Round the World published in 1771; ‘raised the stakes in the race to see who would open up the Pacific first’. Arthur Herman, To Rule The Waves, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 2005

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