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    Re: Finding longitude in the 12th century
    From: Alexandre Eremenko
    Date: 2012 Sep 1, 11:08 -0400

    In 1596, Barentsz expedition spent winter in a camp on
    Novaia Zemlia island. The exact location is known, because the house
    they built and remains of their stuff survived.
    It is 76d15'5 N, 68d16'2 E, you can see a photo of this home in
    Wikipedia on "Barentsz".
    Now, I read the detailed account of one participant of this expedition
    (de Veer). My impression is that Barentsz (and de Veer) were highly
    educated people, and knew everything relevant to navigation which
    was available at that time.
    They determined their coordinates as 76d N, 87d21' E.
    The instruments and tables they used are not described in detail, but
    there are all reasons to assume that they were the best available.
    And this was not a determination at sea; they had a land observatory,
    where they spent almost a year... (Barentsz was in fact the navigator of
    the expedition).
    I conclude that in the end of XVI century, it was possible to determine
    latitude to 10-15 miles, perhaps a bit better.
    But the longitude only very approximately, almost useless for navigation.
    They used an occultation of the Moon by Jupiter plus dead reconning,
    plus some places with "known" longitude.
    Perhaps I have to add that the place of their expedition was not
    "uninhabited", and Novaia Zemlia was regularly visited by the Russians
    at that time. (In fact they helped and saved Barentsz expedition).
    But they had no idea of longitude at that time:-)

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