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Papers of Nevil Maskelyne : Book on nautical astronomy

Papers of Nevil Maskelyne

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This unbound book of some of Nevil Maskelyne's handwritten notes is marked 'Geogr:', presumably for Geography or Geographical or for the French equivalent. This and similar volumes reflect Maskelyne's interest in a wide variety of subjects and tendency to take extensive notes on them, something not unique among educated Georgian men. There are a number of similar sets of notes in RGO 4 including RGO 4/210, which encompasses subjects from mathematics to Classical poetry and literature.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage();return false;'> first page (RGO 4/288:1)</a> of this volume notes, in French, a small number of comments related to nautical astronomy and the observational horizon at sea from earlier eighteenth-century sources including publications by the French astronomer Jerome Lalande and the 'Histoire de l'Académie royale des sciences' of 1706. The ensuing treatise in English <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage();return false;'> explains (RGO 4/288:2)</a> how to find longitude and latitude at sea from the positions of the Moon, Sun and fixed stars, with examples from 1774 and references to the instructions in Maskelyne's 'Nautical Almanac' of 1771.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The other documents in this collection include some <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage();return false;'> astronomical (RGO 4/288:14)</a> observations in French originally made by the Dutch explorer and navigator Willem Barents in 1596-1597, a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(42);return false;'> comparative table (RGO 4/288:16v-17r)</a> of fifteen thermometer scales suggested by different individuals and institutions, and what appears to be a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(46);return false;'> table (RGO 4/288:18v)</a> listing the Latin names of flora alongside different number values and cross-referenced with different locations and dates of the 1750s and 1760s. The <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage();return false;'> final (RGO 4/288:19)</a> page lists in French longitudes, latitudes and declinations for different cities.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Alexi Baker<br />History and Philosophy of Science<br />University of Cambridge<br /></p>

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