Time was of essence in calculating longitude
Rockland — Captain Jim Sharp will give a talk on the historic “quest for longitude” on Friday, July 6 at 7 p.m. at the Sail, Power and Steam Museum.
It is hard to imagine in today’s GPS world that before the late 1700s it was very difficult for sailors to determine where they were on the ocean. For centuries, mariners and explorers worked to determine their longitude in an effort to make navigation easier. Latitude was determined easily by observing the inclination of the sun or the position of known stars in the sky and calculating the angular distance from the horizon to them. Longitude could not be determined in this way because Earth's rotation constantly changes the position of stars and the sun.
In the early 1600s it was found that longitude could be determined by the passage of time and the search was on for a clock that would keep reliable time on a moving ship. In the X-prize of its day, the British Parliament offered a £20,000 prize for such a clock. Sharp will describe this fascinating process that changed ocean-going navigation for the better.
The talk is free; donations are always welcome. Sharp’s Point South and the Sail, Power and Steam Museum are at 75 Mechanic St. in Rockland. For more information call 701-7627 or 596-0200, email email@example.com, or visit sailpowerandsteammuseum.org.
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