In the 15th century, explorers took to the high seas in search of new worlds and exotic treasures. To navigate, seafarers could determine their latitude by using a sextant to observe the position of the sun at midday or bright stars at night. Unfortunately, determining longitude was more difficult. Because the earth rotates, measuring longitude requires both a sextant and an accurate clock. In the 15th and 16th centuries, clocks were insufficiently accurate to navigate with any certainty, and this all too often led to disaster. Visibility of this burning maritime issue was heightened in 1707 when Admiral Sir Cloudesly Shovell miscalculated his position and wrecked his flagship and 3 other British warships off the Scillies, losing nearly 2,000 lives, including his own. Even though his main error was in latitude estimation, exacerbated by the persistent fog so that he could see neither night sky or daytime sun, longitude continued to be, generally, the biggest source of error. In 1714 Sir Isaac Newton explained “for determining the Longitude at sea, there have been several projects, true in theory, but difficult to execute…one is by watch,…but by reason of the motion of the ship,…variation of heat and cold…such a watch hath not yet been made.” Spurred to action, the British government established an official body, The Board of Longitude, in 1714. The board offered the longitude prize (£20,000 or about $2,000,000 US today) to the person who could contrive a means of resolving position at sea to within 30 nautical miles after sailing to the West Indies. This required a clock that could keep time to within 3 seconds per day.
a.This text says that to find the longitude we need an accurate clock and by the early 1700s we were not able to make a clock to work accurately on the ship.
b.This text says that to find both latitude and longitude we need an accurate clock and by the early 1700s we didn’t have enough astronomical knowledge to calculate the length of day accurately.
c.This text says that to find the latitude we need an accurate clock and by the early 1700s we were not able to determine time accurately.
d.This text says that to find the celestial equator we need an accurate clock and by the early 1700s we were not able to determine solar day accurately.
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