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    Re: Eclipses of Jupiter's moons: Did ships tend to carry the requisite equipment?
    From: William Allen
    Date: 2004 Feb 13, 09:48 -0800

    Carl,
    
    In my readings of this epoch of the Royal Navy, it would have been very
    rare indeed for an average captain (average wealth and skills) to own
    and carry on board such a telescope and to know how to use it to take
    these type of sights - and reduce them to useable longitude data.  I
    have not found any precedent for this type of activity in O'Brian's
    alleged role model for Aubrey (at least for the early books), the famous
    super-captain Thomas Cochrane.  See for example "The Autobiography of a
    Seaman" by Admiral Lord Cochrane, first published in 1860 with many
    subsequent re-issues.
    
    However, I have read all the Aubrey/Maturin novels and it seems to me
    that the author (pseudonym O'Brian, an Englishman born Richard Patrick
    Russ, who in reality did not ever serve on-board a Royal Navy ship
    during his stint in the armed forces during WWII) is depicting his
    central character as a science dilettante who is willing to experiment
    with new astronomy and navigation ideas.  I believe Aubrey has even
    submitted one or more papers to the Royal Society on the "Nutations of
    the Earth", which I believe had something to do with the procession of
    the poles.  This makes him a worthy colleague for the cerebral and
    multi-talented doctor (not just surgeon), Steven Maturin.  And "Lucky
    Jack" Aubrey would have had the money from his prize winnings to
    purchase the needed equipment for Jupiter's moons sights -- at least in
    the middle of his career before he starts to squander his savings.
    
    Certainly there were some Royal Navy ships that carried special
    equipment with specially trained officers to perform the sights of
    Jupiter's moons on distant shores (read on the land), but I am under the
    impression that these trials  were earlier (maybe 1760 to 1780? Perhaps
    under the instigation of Maskelyne or his cronies?) than Aubrey's
    captain's commission.
    
    I have always viewed the Jupiter's moons sights as a slight literary
    license that -- although historically had been done -- was primarily
    included to enhance the reader's impression of the intelligence and
    scientific prowess of the Aubrey character.  However, this has not in
    any way taken away my enjoyment and enthusiasm for the books.
    
    Bill Allen
    
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Navigation Mailing List
    [mailto:NAVIGATION-L@LISTSERV.WEBKAHUNA.COM] On Behalf Of CarlZog
    Sent: Friday, February 13, 2004 8:49 AM
    To: NAVIGATION-L@LISTSERV.WEBKAHUNA.COM
    Subject: Eclipses of Jupiter's moons: Did ships tend to carry the
    requisite equipment?
    
    A question arose on a mailing list of Patrick O'Brian fans that I
    thought
    this group may be better prepared to answer:
    
    Apparently, in one of his books, O'Brian's main character is carrying a
    fairly substantial telescope on board with which to determine longitude
    by
    the eclipses of Jupiter's moons.
    
    Presumably, he would be conducting these measurements on some remote
    coastline and not on board. But even assuming that much, the question
    was,
    how likely was a British naval ship or its captain to have carried or
    used
    such equipment circa 1800?
    
    His fan are prone to believing that most of O'Brian's details are drawn
    from
    contemporary source material. While the method is commonly discussed in
    texts of the period, I'm uncertain how prevalent the actual practice
    was.
    
    Carl Herzog
    
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Navigation Mailing List
    [mailto:NAVIGATION-L@LISTSERV.WEBKAHUNA.COM] On Behalf Of CarlZog
    Sent: Friday, February 13, 2004 8:49 AM
    To: NAVIGATION-L@LISTSERV.WEBKAHUNA.COM
    Subject: Eclipses of Jupiter's moons: Did ships tend to carry the
    requisite equipment?
    
    A question arose on a mailing list of Patrick O'Brian fans that I
    thought
    this group may be better prepared to answer:
    
    Apparently, in one of his books, O'Brian's main character is carrying a
    fairly substantial telescope on board with which to determine longitude
    by
    the eclipses of Jupiter's moons.
    
    Presumably, he would be conducting these measurements on some remote
    coastline and not on board. But even assuming that much, the question
    was,
    how likely was a British naval ship or its captain to have carried or
    used
    such equipment circa 1800?
    
    His fan are prone to believing that most of O'Brian's details are drawn
    from
    contemporary source material. While the method is commonly discussed in
    texts of the period, I'm uncertain how prevalent the actual practice
    was.
    
    Carl Herzog
    
    
    

       
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