History: Marine Chronometer

September 19th, 2011 | 1 Comment

British Museum Marine Chronometer

Considered to be one of the best advances in time-keeping, the marine chronometer paved the way as the most precise and accurate portable timekeeping device.The marine chronometer has an exciting history and is a notable example of capitalism in the 18th century.

In 1714, the British government offered a £20,000 prize for the design and construction of an seafaring instrument capable of determining longitude.  Up until that time, there had been no accurate means of determining time while out at sea.  By being able to determine time, captains could then determine their accurate longitude, or distance traveled east-west.

Carpenter John Harrison submitted his final (and very precise) project in 1761, almost 50 years later!

Larcum Kendell and many others then worked to perfect this model over the next few decades.

Marine chronometers were absolutely pivotal in the advancements of overseas travel, as time was very important when making long voyages across seas.

Even though the GPS is here today to guide the way and give us the time, during celestial marine navigation (using celestial bodies and sights to guide your way in travel), chronometers are still used and sometimes required for certain ships.

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