The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
March 15, 2006 10:25 AM   Subscribe

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich has some excellent online collections related to maritime history and technology, including telescopes, marine chronometers, sundials, and a whole lot more. Some stuff I've been looking at: John Harrison's chronometers (described in Dava Sobel's book Longitude), polyhedral sundials, and pocket globes.
posted by carter (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Thanks for posting this- excellent site. I especially like the fact that you can order prints of nearly all of their online images.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:43 AM on March 15, 2006

I visited England a few summers back, and really enjoyed the Greenwich observatory. I had recently read Longitude (and second the recommendation) and was looking forward to seeing the famous chronometers. Before I could take a look (I had saved them for last) the guard told me that the museum closed at 6 o'clock (as I recall) and that I would have to leave because it was now 6:01.

He said this to me in the room with the Atomic Clock. The Atomic Clock which clearly read five. Utterly baffled, I stammered out something about "The most accurate clock in the world...", but before I could become too indignant, the guard explained to me about daylight savings time--apparently the museum was operating on UK time, which was an hour ahead of... the museum? I mean, come on, if there's a single place in the world were you'd think you'd know what time it was, surely it would be when you were standing in front the Atomic Clock in Greenwich?
posted by Squid Voltaire at 12:00 PM on March 15, 2006

The Story of the Bounty Chronometer relates how the mutineers prevented Bligh's clerk, John Samuel, from taking it:
Mr. Samuel.....was forbidden, on pain of death , to touch either map, ephemeris , book of astronomical observations, sextant, time-keeper or any of my surveys or drawings. (Mr. Samuel) attempted to save the time-keeper, and a box with my surveys, drawings, and remarks for fifteen years past, which were numerous; when he was hurried away, with "Damn your eyes you are well off to get what you have."
Instead, the mutineers gave Bligh a pocket watch, making his navigation of the loyalists' 3600 mile voyage in Bounty's launch even more remarkable:
Death by starvation was a constant threat, the ration, served twice daily, being only one twenty-fifth of a pound of bread and a gill (quarter pint) of water with occasional additions of half an ounce of port and a teaspoonful of rum. Although a fish line was always out, no fish was ever caught. Towards the end of the month, the launch reached the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. When the men, more dead than alive, finally staggered ashore on a sandy islet which Bligh called Restoration Island, many of them could neither stand nor walk. And they still had 1,300 miles to sail in order to reach Timor. . .
The mutineers took the Bounty's original chronometer with them onto Pitcairn Island, and it was eventually returned to England in 1840. It can now be seen at the National Maritime Museum.
posted by cenoxo at 10:55 PM on March 15, 2006

Great, there goes a big chunk of the weekend.
posted by Mitheral at 11:17 AM on March 16, 2006

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