Papers of the Board of Longitude : Papers on the 'Nautical Almanac' and errata in works of the Board of Longitude

Papers of the Board of Longitude

<p>The Nautical Almanac is often regarded as one of the many battlefields of reformist ambitions in Regency scientific circles, but in truth the <i>Nautical Almanac</i> is more interesting when understood as a reason for wanting reform in the first place rather than one of the many examples given by reformists with supposed higher ideological ambitions. The supposedly poor state of the <i>Nautical Almanac</i> lead to calls for the reform of the systems of governement interaction with scientific institutions and individuals. Men of science pursuing reform in this period were more often motivated by practical needs, rather than ideology, unlike their political counterparts.</p> <p> <a href='/search?keyword=Thomas%20Young'>Thomas Young</a> (see portraits [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw41673/Thomas-Young?LinkID=mp04986&search=sas&sText=thomas+young&role=sit&rNo=4'>link</a>] at the National Portrait Gallery) became the Superintendent of the <i>Nautical Almanac</i> as a result of the 1818 Longitude Act replacing Astronomer Royal <a href='/search?keyword=John%20Pond'>John Pond</a>. In 1818 the <i>Almanac</i> was regarded as being in a state of decline, especially when compared with its continental equivalents. In defence of his position and in the growing knowledge of the public nature of the position of Superintendent, Young retained all correspondence regarding improvement , reform and errata in the <i>Nautical Almanac</i> in this volume of papers, regardless of whether the suggestion was ignored or implemented. Of particular significance are the letters [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(41);return false;'>20</a>] of <a href='/search?keyword=Francis%20Baily'>Francis Baily</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/136488.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] and <a href='/search?keyword=James%20South'>James South</a> (see portrait [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait.php?LinkID=mp04201&rNo=0&role=sit'>link</a>] at the National Portrait Gallery) , both of whom attacked Young in his position as Superintendent and the administration and organisation of the Board of Longitude more generally. Additionally in all the corrections sent to Young collected in this volume there are several examples of errors in the <i>Nautical Almanac</i> having been acknowledged by Young and removed in the second editions, for example the pencilled note [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(177);return false;'>87</a>] at the end of a letter from <a href='/search?keyword=Captain%20Christian%20Becker'>Captain Christian Becker</a>.</p> <p>Another interesting feature is the single letter [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(211);return false;'>103</a>] to <a href='/search?keyword=Captain%20Edward%20Sabine'>Captain Edward Sabine</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/107845.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] from <a href='/search?keyword=Sir%20John%20Barrow'>Sir John Barrow</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/107723.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] regarding the difficultly of who should be superintendent after Thomas Young's rather sudden death on May the 10th 1829, the passing of the Superintendence back to John Pond as Astronomer Royal is an interesting piece of political manoeuvring to keep the <i>Nautical Almanac</i> close to the <a href='/search?keyword=Admiralty%20Board'>Admiralty Board</a> and <a href='/search?keyword=The%20Royal%20Society'>The Royal Society</a>. In the letter Barrow askes for Sabine's help in the periodic examination of the accounts of the Nautical Almanac produced by Pond, suggesting that Pond was not the ideal choice of the Board but would be better than handing control of the <i>Nautical Almanac</i> over to its critics.</p> <p>Also contained within this volume are all of Young's correspondence with the various computers for the <i>Nautical Almanac</i>, the papers demonstrate the level of complexity involved in the co-ordination behind the production of the tables found in just one edition.</p> <p>Sophie Waring<br />History and Philosophy of Science<br />University of Cambridge<br /> </p>


Want to know more?

Under the 'More' menu you can find , any transcription and translation we have of the text and find out about downloading or sharing this image.

No Contents List Available
No Metadata Available

Download

Share

If you want to share this page with others you can send them a link to this individual page:
Alternatively please share this page on social media

You can also embed the viewer into your own website or blog using the code below: