If you’re even vaguely interested in the history of navigation, this is one website you’ve got to visit! http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/collections/longitude.
And here’s just one image taken from it, almost at random – it’s a page of observations taken aboard Captain Cook’s ship Resolution at Dusky Bay in New Zealand during his second great voyage of discovery in the 1770s. It illustrates the huge amount of work carried out every day to fix the ship’s latitude and longitude, to the check on the magnetic variation and ‘dip’ and so on. William Wales, the official astronomer, must have been a very busy man!
But there’s so much more – in fact ALL the papers accumulated by the Board of Longitude over a period of more than 100 years have been digitised. Among the crucial developments covered are: the work of the brilliant but irascible watchmaker, John Harrison; the appearance of Tobias Mayer’s tables of the moon’s motions – which enabled navigators to determine the time (and thereby their longitude) by the ‘lunar distance’ method; and the development of the Nautical Almanac by the great astronomer, Nevil Maskelyne.
Have fun exploring this amazing online archive – and be thankful to the dedicated team who have made it available to us, with a great deal of expert commentary!