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The First Map of the Moon

The First Map of the Moon

2023-07-27 01:15:21

Tudor astronomer Thomas Harriot’s moon map dating from 1609.
Cosmic: Thomas Harriot’s moon statement, 1609. Max Alexander/Lord Egremont/Science Photograph Library

To have one patron imprisoned within the Tower could also be thought to be a misfortune; to have two appears to be like like carelessness. Maybe Thomas Harriot, Renaissance polymath and consumer of each Sir Walter Ralegh and Henry Percy, had good motive to direct his consideration from worldly troubles.

At 9 pm on Wednesday 26 July 1609, Harriot, then dwelling within the grounds at Syon Home, pointed his telescope at a five-day-old crescent moon. It made him the primary individual to coach such an instrument on the skies and map the moon.

Telescopes had been the most recent expertise: one had first been patented the earlier autumn within the Netherlands, and it’s doable that Harriot had constructed his personal.

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Not all his moon drawings survive, however a composite map from 1610 suggests he thought he was drawing coastlines and continents, islands and seas. It was his navigational and cartographic ability that drew him to Ralegh; he had lived for a 12 months in Ralegh’s Roanoke colony, the place he realized the Algonquian language and studied their customs.

Harriot by no means printed, nevertheless. His work lay undiscovered till 1784; his moon map wasn’t printed till 1965. It thus appears apt that, though there’s a crater on the moon named in Harriot’s honour, it’s on the far aspect, the place nobody can truly see it.

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