Papers of the Board of Longitude : Astronomical observations made during Captain Cook's last voyage.

Papers of the Board of Longitude

<p>Astronomical and navigational observations made by <a href='/search?keyword=Captain%20James%20Cook'>Captain James Cook</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/14102.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] , <a href='/search?keyword=James%20King'>James King</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/107078.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] and <a href='/search?keyword=William%20Bayly'>William Bayly</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/154073.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] between 1778 and 1780 on board HMS <a href='/search?keyword=Resolution'>Resolution</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections.html#!csearch;authority=vessel-342921;vesselReference=vessel-342921'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] on Cook's third voyage of discovery [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections.html#!csearch;authority=event-81;eventReference=event-81;start=0'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='RMG icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] . This volume forms the final part of the work begun in [<a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00060/1'>RGO 14/60</a>]. The purpose of this voyage was ostensibly to return <a href='/search?keyword=Omai'>Omai</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/101256.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] to the <a href='/search?keyword=Society%20Islands'>Society Islands</a>. Omai - a Raiatean - had travelled to England from <a href='/search?keyword=Huahine'>Huahine</a> on board HMS <a href='/search?keyword=Adventure'>Adventure</a>, which had sailed as part of Cook's second voyage to the Pacific. However, this was not the primary purpose of the voyage. HMS <i>Resolution</i> was under instructions to travel alongside HMS <a href='/search?keyword=Discovery'>Discovery</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections.html#!csearch;authority=vessel-307416;vesselReference=vessel-307416'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] to find and chart the elusive <a href='/search?keyword=North-West%20Passage'>North-West Passage</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections.html#!csearch;authority=subject-90627;exhibitionReference=subject-90627;start=30'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] . The imagined trading route connecting the <a href='/search?keyword=North%20Atlantic'>North Atlantic</a> with the <a href='/search?keyword=North%20Pacific'>North Pacific</a> was much sought-after. The route was desired so much that the <a href='/search?keyword=Admiralty'>Admiralty</a> extended their long-standing prize for its discovery just before this voyage, in 1775.</p> <p> Like the earlier work in [<a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00060/1'>RGO 14/60</a>], this volume contains detailed records from a range of astronomical instruments and navigational techniques. The <a href='/search?keyword=Admiralty'>Admiralty</a> used this raw data to construct the official charts [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/154017.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='RMG icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] for the voyage. The <a href='/search?keyword=Board%20of%20Longitude'>Board of Longitude</a> used it to assess, among other things, the going of the voyage's timekeeper, K1 [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/79143.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='RMG icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] , <a href='/search?keyword=Larcum%20Kendall'>Larcum Kendall</a>'s copy of <a href='/search?keyword=John%20Harrison'>John Harrison</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/136321.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] 's H4 [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/79142.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='RMG icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] .</p> <p>This volume is significant as Captain Cook died [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/usercollections/f9c8ad8b198e42bb44947210a9058981.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='RMG icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] at <a href='/search?keyword=Hawaii'>Hawaii</a> in February, 1779. The incident occurs part way through this list of entries but neither the astronomical entries nor the ratings of the timekeeper stopped. Between February and August 1779, the Commander of the <i>Discovery</i>, <a href='/search?keyword=Charles%20Clerke'>Charles Clerke</a> (see portrait [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://gg.govt.nz/node/1417'>link</a>] at Government House, New Zealand) took command of the voyage. After he died from tuberculosis, <a href='/search?keyword=John%20Gore'>John Gore</a> (see portrait [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an2256760'>link</a>] at the National Library of Australia), an officer from the <i>Resolution</i> took command. Gore was a trigger-happy officer in the <a href='/search?keyword=Royal%20Navy'>Royal Navy</a>. Ten years earlier he became famous for being the first recorded person to shoot and kill a kangaroo. A year before that he had become the first recorded person on Cook's first voyage to have shot and killed someone of Maori descent. His name occurs regularly in this volume, particularly in the last section of the volume (stuck upside down in the archived copy), alongside the officer <a href='/search?keyword=James%20Burney'>James Burney</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/127656.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] and the astronomer <a href='/search?keyword=William%20Bayly'>William Bayly</a>. This section is a daily record of the time of the watch - Kendall's K1. Entries are made according to the instructions from the Admiralty, which dictated that the timekeeper should be kept in a box with three locks and with three separate keys distributed to three members of the crew (the commander, the 1st Lieutenant, and the astronomer) and that each person should be present for the opening up and checking of the timekeeper's daily rate. The names listed here, therefore, are marks directed toward the Admiralty, seeking to establish the fact that Gore, during his time as the new Captain on the voyage, had followed their instructions properly.</p> <p>This final section of the piece should also remind us that, in the same way as for his previous voyages, the Admiralty sought to manage and distribute much of the astronomical work beyond the Captain. This is most notable in their assignment of an astronomer to each ship. In this case it was the astronomer William Bayly. Bayly had also served as an astronomer on Cook's second voyage and went on to become head of the <a href='/search?keyword=Royal%20Naval%20Academy'>Royal Naval Academy</a> at <a href='/search?keyword=Portsmouth'>Portsmouth</a>, from 1785 to 1807. (See his Original Astronomical Observations made in the course of a Voyage to the Northern Pacific Ocean. … in the years 1776–1780, by Capt. J. Cooke, Lieut. J. King, and W. Bayly … by order of the Board of Longitude, 1782.) </p> <p>Eóin Phillips<br />History and Philosophy of Science<br />University of Cambridge<br /> </p>


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