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    Capt Cook Navigation....
    From: Maurice Millard
    Date: 1998 Jun 09, 6:15 AM

    
    Rory Edge wrote:
    
    
    .......Cook's use of the moon to navigate.  The method seems to have worked
    rather well.  Does anyone know of a book that describes the method in detail?
    
    One very good recent article written by Cameron Bright, is in the Jan/Feb 1994
    Issue of Ocean Navigator. This gives a good overview on the history and
    application of the "Lunar Distance" method.
    
    Last year in the Journal of the Institute of Navigation, there was an article
    discussing the navigation techniques used by Joshua Slocum in his
    circumnavigation. The conclusion was he had used lunar distances and the
    article goes on to discuss the technique including sample almanac pages.
    
    In my readings, after the introduction of chronometers, I find no sign that
    the time method became universal. The Royal Navy adopted the method, and they
    had a significant infrastructure designed to support it. Naval depot's had
    "Chronometer Workshops' from which navigators drew a chronometer prior to a
    voyage. After the voyage the unit was returned for checking and calibration.
    This units could not have been cheap by any means.
    
    I think an apt analogy would be the use of Ships Inertial Navigation Systems
    (SINS) on ships in the 1960s. These systems were very expensive, but they
    offered significant tactical advantages to Navies and hence were worth it.
    SINS did not find any application in commercial maritime circles.
    
    I think an indication of the popularity of Lunars is the fact that Lunar
    Distance tables continued to be printed as part of the Nautical Almanac's into
    this century. As I recall the French almanacs carried this data up to about
    the 1912 editions.
    
    Again opinion: What finally killed "Lunar Distance" method? I think it was due
    to faster ships; the time between ports was less. Most ports dropped a ball at
    midday (this is where the Times Square New Year thing comes from) allowing
    navigators to check chronometer error. This allowed much less expensive
    mechanisms to be used with acceptable results.
    
    One final note. Cook was assigned an astronomer as part of the crew for the
    voyages of discovery. No doubt it fell to this individual to do the tedious
    work of sight reduction required by the LD method.
    
    Maurice Millard
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