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Solving Longitude: Magnetism

Some ideas for finding longitude at sea did not rely on time. One of them was to use patterns in the Earth’s magnetic field, but these needed to be mapped for practical use. There had been numerous proposals for using magnetism since the 16th century and scholars continued to investigate…

Guest post: Mr and Mrs Maskelyne

In anticipation of a new book on Nevil Maskelyne, Amy Miller, Curator of Decorative Arts and Material Culture at Royal Museums Greenwich, tells us about a pair of miniatures of the fifth Astronomer Royal and his wife. Earlier this week, two portraits of Nevil Maskelyne and Sophia Rose Maskelyne went…

Solving Longitude: Jupiter’s Moons

There were many proposed solutions to the Longitude problem, as discussed in Ships, Clocks & Stars. One of the main contenders was using Jupiter’s Moons as a celestial clock – though particular problems arose when attempting this at sea.  Last week, I explored how a celestial ‘clock’, the moon, could…

Time for Coffee: Longitude and coffeehouse culture

One of my favourite parts of Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude exhibition is the evocation of an 18th-century coffeehouse. You can hear longitude enthusiasts lamenting the problems they’re having with their solutions, or asking Mrs Pike for a bit more coffee. According to Seb Falk in his…