A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Position-Finding
From: Wolfgang Köberer
Date: 2010 May 16, 16:25 +0200
George has asked me to report on the other Navigation conference which took place on this side of the Atlantic. As he had informed you weeks ago, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich held a 2 day symposium on the the History of Navigation "A Sense of Direction"on the 6th and 7th of May. This was a joint affair of the museum with the Royal Institute of Navigation and about 70 people attended from 7 countries (from Norway all the way down to Portugal). A handful of list members was there, too.
I am attaching the abstracts of the talks. The scope of contributions was restricted to the time span between about 500 BC and 1900 AD. As the people from the RIN were coming mostly from air navigation they will probably extend the scope for the next conference.
I found the talks by Dr. Leitao, Nicolàs de Hilster Ted Gerrard and George most fascinating. Also the report by Olivier Sauzereau abou the network of marine observatories in France erected to check the chronometers of the French navy in their home ports so they would not have to be transported to the Paris observatory and back. Most of these observatories have disappeared by now and Olivier Sauzereau has dug up their history which has almost been forgotten. Nicolàs de Hilsters contribution about the early development of the Davis quadrant will be published in the Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society and I can only recommend to get a copy of that if you are interested in early altitude measuring instruments.
On this occasion the NMM gave the delegates a chance to have a close look at some of their treasures: at first we were let into the workroom in the observatory where Jonathan Betts is starting the current conservation work on "H2". It is still ticking away before being dismantled and Jonathan Betts gave us a spontaneous lecture on the time keeper and its history showing us, for instance, where Rupert T. Gould had drilled a hole into it while reassembling it for the second time. We then had the chance to put our (gloved) hands on an astrolabe, a cross staff, a Davis quadrant and assorted other instruments.
As it seems to have been a success, the RIN and the NMM are thinking about a continuation. If a new conference comes up I trust that George will inform you again.