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    Errors in Cotter's book
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2002 Dec 29, 22:02 +0000

    In response to a request from Jan Kalivoda, here's a list of some things I
    suspect are wrong in Charles H Cotter's otherwise-excellent book "A History
    of Nautical Astronomy".
    
    If any reader thinks I may myself be wrong about any of these matters, I
    would welcome being corrected. If any additianal errors are known about, I
    would like to hear about them. I doubt if my list, below, is at all
    exhaustive: I have not deliberately searched out errors; these are just the
    ones I have stumbled across in my own reading.
    
    
    The paging corresponds to my Hollis & Carter 1968 edition, the last page of
    its index being 387.. I think there was also a US edition: the paging was
    probably identical. I doubt if there were any later editions.
    
    Here goes-
    
    ===========================
    
    page 49. The third paragraph starts- "The civil day at sea commenced at
    midnight", which is correct. In the next paragraph Cotter states "The civil
    day commenced when the Mean Sun culminated at noon."
    
    This appears to be quite contradictory, and my guess is that Cotter had
    intended to say "The ASTRONOMICAL day commenced when the Mean Sun
    culminated at noon."
    
    ==========================
    page 210-212, Borda's method. Here I think Cotter has got into a real mess
    with his trig. The equation that precedes equation (Y) is given as -
    
    (sin D/2)^2 = sin{(M+S)/2 + theta} sin {(M+S)/2 - theta}
    
    I think he has got the last term the wrong way round and it should be-
    
    (sin D/2)^2 = sin{(M+S)/2 + theta} sin {theta- (M+S)/2}
    
    Please check that, somebody!
    
    so in consequence, in equation (Y), the second sine term in the product of
    two sines is also reversed.
    
    Similarly in the last equation on page 210, for log sin D/2, the last term
    in the sum should end up as log sin (theta- (M+S)/2), not log sin ((M+S)/2
    - theta), as Cotter gives it.
    
    If you slavishly follow Cotter's steps, you will end up taking the log of a
    negative quantity, which is an impossibility.
    
    I think Cotter has realised there's something wrong, without being sure
    what it is, because on page 211 he states the rules in words for clearing
    the distance, and in rule 5 he says- "Find the sum of and difference
    between theta and phi". Because he hasn't defined here which way round to
    take that difference, the navigator will presume that he should subtract in
    such a direction as to give a positive answer. So that bit of "fudging" has
    got Cotter out of his problem. In fact the subtraction should ALWAYS be
    theta - phi, and NEVER as stated at the foot of 210, phi - theta.
    
    On line 3 of page 212, that's what he has written down in the calculation,
    theta - phi, as it should be.
    
    =========================
    
    There's an additional error in Rule 5, page 211, in that the last sentence
    should not read-
    
    "The result is the sine of half the true lunar distance, that is D/2.",
    
    but instead-
    
    "The result is the LOG sine of half the true lunar distance, that is D/2."
    
    ========================
    
    page 237. For a navigator, it may be useful to know that alpha Aquilae is
    more familiar as Altair, alpha Arietis as Hamal, and alpha Pegasi as
    Markab.
    
    =========================
    
    page 250.  The four equations shown on this page all use the quantity s,
    but I cannot find any definition of s. I presume that s is half the
    perimeter of the PZX triangle, so-
    
    s = 1/2 (ZX + PZ + PX)  Can anyone confirm that?
    
    In the third expression, for cos P/2, a quantity s with a subscript 2
    appears. I have no idea where that subscript appears from and presume it's
    just a misprint. That little 2 should I think be erased.
    
    ========================
    
    page 264. Cotter says, about finding the moment of noon by equal Sun altitudes-
    
    "By taking the equal-altitude sights shortly before and after noon the
    necessity for applying a correction for the change in the Sun's declination
    in the interval is obviated, since any such change will be trifling."
    
    I disagree with Cotter's analysis here. It seems to me that the correction
    necessary for a change in declination will be exactly the same whether the
    equal altitudes are measured over a short interval or a long one. Anyone
    disagree with that?
    
    ===========================
    
    page 354. Napier's rule. I suspect that the second expression, shown as-
    
    cos x = cos y cos z
    
    is wrong, and should be-
    
    cos y = cos x cos z
    
    Somebody check this, please.
    
    ==========================
    
    It's rather disappointing that so many errors can be found in Cotter, and
    indicates some degree of carelessness in the checking and proofreading. But
    we can all get things wrong, as I have good reason to know...
    
    The prevalence of these detected errors leaves me suspecting that there may
    be many more, lurking as-yet unseen.
    
    They detract somewhat, but not a lot, from the value of Cotter's book,
    which remains by far the best source I know to treat the development of
    astronavigation, and is a wonderful goldmine of references.
    
    George Huxtable.
    
    
    
    ------------------------------
    
    george---.u-net.com
    George Huxtable, 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.
    Tel. 01865 820222 or (int.) +44 1865 820222.
    ------------------------------
    
    
    

       
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