The Quest for Longitude

Quest for Longitude

The Proceedings of the Longitude Symposium,
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
November 4-6, 1993
Hardcover Edition: November, 1996

By William J.H. Andrewes (Editor)

After 1492, a key component of global dominance by the major seafaring European nations was the knowledge of latitude/longitude, whether on land or sea. Means of establishing latitude were developed, but methods for determining longitude (the measurement of lunar distances or eclipses on Jupiter's satellites) remained imperfect. A third method using "marine timekeepers," or chronometers, was the object of a competitive struggle eventually won by clockmaker John Harrison. These papers by 20 leading scholars and experts, presented at a 1993 conference, capture in their excellent writing and well-researched history the people and the technological demands involved in the creation of these unique clocks, where an error in seconds puts one miles off course. Also covered is the interplay of science, politics, and economics. The 260 illustrations are beautifully reproduced; many have never been published before.