Welcome to the NavList Message Boards.


A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding

Compose Your Message

Add Images & Files
    Re: Lunars & Bowditch's? First Method
    From: Frank Reed CT
    Date: 2004 Aug 12, 02:03 EDT
    Bruce S wrote:
    "That's true, Frank. I was talking about Moore's New Practical Navigator. You were talking about America's pirated version of it. I have a 1796 and an 1804 Moore in front of me. Both appear to be the real thing. Neither has the method you attribute to Rios."

    Aha. Thanks for checking. I haven't opened a "real" Moore in a year, and yes, you're correct, I was talking about the Blunt/Bowditch "pirated" edition.

    And you wrote:
    "But, I understand from you the 1800 American version does have it. That seems right to me. Bowditch is said to have invented the method on his first voyage. He left Salem in January 1795, and returned a year later. It seems reasonable to suppose he would have sent a letter explaining the method to the Royal Society of London sometime during the voyage. "

    The first method in the Blunt/Bowditch 'pirate-Moore' is defi nitely the method invented by Jose de Mendoza y Rios and written up as part of a long article in the Transactions of the Royal Society and published (in French) in late 1796 (and that is at the latest --it may well have been published earlier). Mendoza Rios was a friend and protege of the famous naturalist Joseph Banks who was himself President of the Royal Society. It does not strike me as remotely plausible that those two "swiped" the method from Bowditch. Additionally, we know for a fact from his own writings that Nathaniel Bowditch was an avid, even obsessive, reader of the Transactions and famously that he had taught himself French and Latin. And we know that in later years, Bowditch was at his best when he was translating, simplifying, and amplifyng the work of the great French celestial mechanic, Laplace. Mining for gold in a French article in the Transactions would have been right up his alley!

    Also, I have closely read Bowditch's descriptions of this method, and he does not appear to claim that he himself invented it --only that he 'made it known' or something to that effect (which some people might interpret as mere modesty on his part). Does anyone know of a specific place where Nathaniel Bowditch states directly "I invented this method"? It is only in later editions, apparently after Nathaniel Bowditch's death (?), by which time the original "First" Method has been shifted to "Third", that the text claims that the author "invented" the method, and that may have been nothing more than proud editing by his son or someone else. The method which is "First" in those later editions is slightly, but distinctly, modified from the Third method (the method of Mendoza Rios) in ways which make it easier to use, and Bowditch certainly deserves credit for those small, clever modificiations. But that original method is not his.

    There is also the possibility that the method in question isn't Mendoza Rios's either and that they were both describing some method which was commonly known or invented by yet another mathematician. I only mention that to cover the logical possibility, but I don't think it's all that likely.

    Frank R
    [ ] Mystic, Connecticut
    [X] Chicago, Illinois
    Browse Files

    Drop Files


    What is NavList?

    Join NavList

    (please, no nicknames or handles)
    Do you want to receive all group messages by email?
    Yes No

    You can also join by posting. Your first on-topic post automatically makes you a member.

    Posting Code

    Enter the email address associated with your NavList messages. Your posting code will be emailed to you immediately.

    Email Settings

    Posting Code:

    Custom Index

    Start date: (yyyymm dd)
    End date: (yyyymm dd)