It was the Moon landing of its day and he was the Armstrong

Captain James Cook is considered one of the greatest explorers and navigators. In 1772 he set out on a three-year-long voyage commissioned by the Royal Society in England where he sought to discover a new continent south of the known world.

Many believed that as further south you went, the warmer it would get. The reality was much different: cold and barren but more beautiful than Cook could have ever imagined. On 17 January 1773, he became probably the first ever human – and certainly the first European, to cross the Antarctic Circle and reach the 71st parallel South at 71°10’.

A voyage to mark another Cook 250th was suspended in 2020 for fear sailors would catch a cold.
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26 Responses to It was the Moon landing of its day and he was the Armstrong

  1. Jannie says:

    A son of the labouring classes, who as a skilled sailor join the Royal Navy as a rating and made his way to captaincy. The greatest of all the navigators, better than Columbus or Magellan, a technical genius. A man of morals, tolerance and the enlightenment. Brave in battle, compassionate in triumph.

    And they are ashamed of him.

  2. Eyrie says:

    Cook came rather late in the great era of ocean exploration. The existence of Australia was already known.
    Great achievement but doesn’t compare to Armstrong who was the first man to walk, not just on the Moon, on a world other than the one that gave birth to humanity, then and FOREVER.

  3. MatrixTransform says:

    James Cook certainly went a few places over the years

    highly recommend, Voyages of Discovery by Lynne Withy

    been gnawing ion this lately too, HM Bark Endeavour by Ray Parkin

  4. Christine says:

    Have just noticed that Jim Cook had a cleft chin.

    Greatly admired adventurer.
    Jannie’s comment is very good.

  5. Buccaneer says:

    And they are ashamed of him.

    The folks that are ashamed of Cook (and for that matter Lincoln and a number of other giants of history) are of the same ilk as the folks who simply went along with the tide of eugenics, slavery, communism, the luddite movement, alchemy, witchcraft, any number of movements that leveraged the power of the mob to strongarm the disinterested, vain or weak-minded into becoming the tool for their perpetuation.

    Within the moral vanity of today’s mob we will find the moral crimes of the future.

  6. Entropy says:

    There is a great smallness in a certain type of modern that seeks to boost themselves by denigrating truly great men of the past.

  7. Pedro the Loafer says:

    James Cook was such a brilliant navigator and map maker that the charts he created for Eastern Australia over 230 years ago are still useable today.

    It also should be remembered that Cook’s first voyage was done without a chronometer, yet he still managed to pinpoint his ship’s position daily.

    Truly a giant of the ages.

  8. Crusader says:

    Is someone denigrating Cook?

  9. MatrixTransform says:

    Longitude without a chronometer I believe, was estimated by measuring the angles between the moon and other celestial object then using using ephemeris tables and spherical trigonometry

    Captain Cook’s longitude determinations

    Longitude by the Method of Lunar Distance

  10. jupes says:

    It also should be remembered that Cook’s first voyage was done without a chronometer, yet he still managed to pinpoint his ship’s position daily.

    Yes, he used the lunar method i.e. measuring angles of planets in relation to the moon. This method only worked with clear skies and you can imagine how complex it was, yet Cook circumnavigated the earth using it. A giant of the ages indeed.

    On his second a third voyages, Cook did have a chronometer – the K1. Made by Larcum Kendall, it was an exact copy of John Harrison’s H4 – the worlds first marine chronometer.

    With a diameter of 124 mm, it is an exquisite timepiece, both in form and function.

  11. jupes says:

    Snap Matrix.

  12. MatrixTransform says:

    snap indeed jupes!!

  13. MatrixTransform says:

    nice watch mate

  14. C.L. says:

    Is Cook’s chronometer extant?

  15. jupes says:

    Is Cook’s chronometer extant?

    Yes. At the Royal Observatory Greenwich. Harrison’s marine chronometers, H1 to H4 are all there too.

  16. C.L. says:

    The timekeeper was commissioned by the Board of Longitude as a copy of H4 in 1766 and was completed in 1769. It was issued to Captain James Cook on his second and third great voyages of discovery to the South Seas, after which it went with Captain Arthur Phillip and the ‘First Fleet’ to found the first colony in Australia. It was then passed to Vice Admiral Sir John Jervis in HMS ‘Victory’, and returned to the Board in 1802.

    Wow, they really returned equipment to Q-branch in those days.

  17. C.L. says:

    Absolutely priceless piece.

  18. Eyrie says:

    BTW, I’m not denigrating Cook. There was a great era of ocean exploration by Europeans starting in the 1400’s but the Moon landing is a historical break. Before men walked on other worlds and after. A Mars landing will not have the same significance.

  19. jupes says:

    That was same HMS Victory which was Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar.

  20. calli says:

    I saw these wonderful timepieces at Greenwich only a couple of months ago. Had to be dragged away from the case.

    As Eyrie says, the existence of Australia (or part thereof) was known, much like the Sea of Tranquility was already mapped. The important, innovative thing was getting there and stepping on it in one piece. No mean feat, especially the perils of reef and native and enemy. And the latter the peril of space itself.

    Different voyages, different technologies, and both utterly marvellous.

  21. Entropy says:

    Incredible. It is a wonder they haven’t made a movie where the bad guys have stolen the timekeeper because its provenance has imbued it magical powers that will enable them to seize the world/ rediscover the Antarctic alien colony Cook found in his secret papers etc. only to be foiled by a dashing hero in a fedora.

  22. Jay says:

    Great post. Thanks. Cook was a genius.

  23. Jannie says:

    There was a great era of ocean exploration by Europeans starting in the 1400’s but the Moon landing is a historical break

    Eyrie, the moon landing was a great technical achievement, and the credit should go largely to the NASA scientific and engineering establishment, not to mention the many astronauts who went before. Neil Armstrong was a highly skilled engineer who was selected for the job, but his technical input could have been achieved by a trained chimp, and he had Houston behind him every second. He had no role in navigation, and they knew where the moon was.

    Cook did not know of Eastern Australia, though it was conjectured that it was there somewhere, as Western and Northern Australia had been reported. He had to navigate him own way and draw his own maps.

    The European age of discovery led to the mapping of the globe, establishment of new nations and the entire modern age. The moon landings brought back a few rocks. There were other technical beneficial spin offs, but not much from the moon itself.

  24. Dunny Brush says:

    Stan Grant has passed judgment on Cook. White man and now good so into the dust bin he goes.

  25. dover_beach says:

    Many believed that as further south you went, the warmer it would get.

    Would like to know why they thought that.

  26. Entropy says:

    Lands end a lot warmer than the isle of Skye.

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