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    History of the IDL
    From: R.H. van Gent
    Date: 2000 Jan 07, 5:23 PM

    Dear list members,
    A (belated) Happy New Year and fair sailing to all.
    During the past year I have been collecting information for a paper on
    the history of the International Date Line (IDL) but I have discovered
    that reliable literature on this topic is very scarce. Everyone of
    course knows what the IDL is and where it is located ("look it up in
    your atlas") but its precise course over the waters of the Pacific has
    varied much during the past few centuries (even without taking the 1995
    adjustment of Kiribati into account). Having traced the course of the
    IDL on a number of authoritative 20th-century atlases, I ended up with
    as many different delineations.
    Apparently, most 20th-century cartographers have traced the course of
    the IDL following that in the publications of the hydrographical
    departments of the British and American Navy. One publication in
    particular appears to be the most authoritative, the so-called "Pacific
    Islands Pilot" which has been regularly issued by both departments.
    Unfortunately, this publication is not easy to obtain from Dutch library
    collections and I hope that by addressing this list I may be able to
    gather more information - probably some of you on the list own a copy of
    the "Pacific Islands Pilot" or have easy access to one.
    I have put up a small web page with a questionnaire that I hope to be
    able to fill in with your help. It is located at:
    I would be most grateful if anyone on this list who owns or who has easy
    access to any edition of the "Pacific Islands Pilot" can communicate to
    me the therein listed co-ordinates of the great circle segments
    delineating the IDL. This would greatly help me in reconstructing a
    history of the IDL.
    Any suggestions for literature on the history of the IDL will also be
    Best wishes,
    * Robert H. van Gent * Tel/Fax:  00-31-30-2720269              *
    * Zaagmolenkade 50   * E-mail:   r.h.vangent@astro.uu.nl       *
    * 3515 AE Utrecht    * Home page (under construction):         *
    * The Netherlands    *         http://www.fys.ruu.nl/~vgent/ *

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