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    Re: Drawing the Line - Edwin Danson
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2004 Mar 26, 00:06 +0000

    Cliff Sojourner wrote-
    >perhaps we should mention for our international collegues the
    >most lasting effect of the Mason-Dixon survey, which is the Mason-Dixon
    Charles Mason (assistant to the Astronomer Royal) and Jeremiah Dixon (an
    amateur astronomer) had achieved remarkable success before their invited
    intervention in the Colonies. The Royal Society had sent them out to
    observe the 1761 transit of Venus, planned to be from Bencoolen in India.
    They left aboard a Navy vessel, Seahorse, which was attacked and seriously
    damaged by a French frigate before she got out of the English Channel,
    forcing her to put back for repairs. At that stage, M&D made strenous
    efforts to back down from the project, but were forced to proceed. By the
    time they got to Cape Town, Bencoolen had already been taken by the French,
    so their observations of the transit were made from Cape Town instead.
    Although intermittent clouds hampered their view of the transit, Mason and
    Dixon provided one of the more successful observations of that 1761
    transit, which was measured to determine the size of the solar system.
    My reference is "The Transit of Venus", by David Sellers (Magavelda Press,
    Leeds, UK, 2001)
    One of Kieran Kelly's comments was this-
    >2) Given the scientific achievements of these two -"A Geordie and a baker's
    >boy in the forests of the Iroquois" as Mark Knoffler says in his song
    >"Sailing to Philadelphia" - why aren't their  achievements more celebrated
    >in the USA. There is a vast following in America and overseas for Lewis and
    >Clark, who came along a considerable time after Mason and Dixon. After
    >reading Dansons book it would appear that these blokes would have put the
    >Captains in the shade.
    By the time of the Mason-Dixon line, M & D had acquired a lot of field
    experience and were real professionals who knew just what they were doing
    in terms of celestial navigation and surveying. The same could never be
    said of Lewis & Clark, who had never been given a proper chance to learn
    those skills.
    contact George Huxtable by email at george@huxtable.u-net.com, by phone at
    01865 820222 (from outside UK, +44 1865 820222), or by mail at 1 Sandy
    Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.

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