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Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude

Exhibition preview

TO MARK the 300th anniversary of the passing of the Longitude Act in July 1714, the National Maritime Museum is presenting an exhibition entitled Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude until January 4, 2015.

A landmark exhibition, it tells the extraordinary story of the race to determine longitude (east-west position) at sea, helping to solve the problem of navigation and saving seafarers from terrible fates including shipwreck and starvation.

Visitors to the exhibition can follow the quest to solve the world’s biggest challenge and the battle for the huge rewards of up to £20,000. They can explore the rivalries and ingenious inventions of some of the greatest minds of the 17th and 18th centuries including Galileo, Isaac Newton, Captain Cook and John Harrison.

Centuries later, the science they developed still influences critical areas of modern life, from satnav and mobile phones to international time zones.

Highlights of the exhibition include the original Longitude Act of 1714 on public display for the first time ever, and a rare opportunity to see all five of John Harrison’s now legendary timekeepers together, the first to allow accurate timekeeping at sea.

Also on display are stunning ship models and elegant marine fashions of the time.

A beautifully illustrated book, Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude (pictured), is the official publication of the exhibition and unravels in detail the stories behind how the longitude problem was solved.

National Maritime Museum, Romney Road, Greenwich, SE10 9NF