Lunar Distance and other From 1883 Ed of Bowditch

I have been looking for several decades to find a pre 1912 copy of Bowditch which I understand was the last edition to have Lunar Distance explained as a method to find longitude. Any thoughts from the crowd?

The first major revision, really a complete overhaul, was released in 1882, edited by P. H. Cooper. Large sections have been completely excised and the book is now much shorter. Bowditch’s old chapter on lunars has been mostly dropped and the only method for clearing lunars is Chauvenet’s. Lunars were almost never used at sea in this period. Chauvenet as a paperback costs 15.99 dollar and as a hardcover 27.99, free shipment. Or see here for a simplified method with precomputed lunar distances.

Another method is to go this website with Bowditch editions. For instance click on Bowditch 11th Ed. 1839 and scroll down to the contents and you will find in the column on the right side several items about lunars. The only problem is that it is somewhat hard to read…

Going through a number of editions I found quite some changes on the subject.

3 Likes

https://books.google.ca/books/about/American_Practical_Navigator.html?id=r_JQAQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button&redir_esc=y

3 Likes

That edition is a good one.

“The MARINER’S COMPASS, being the most important instrument of Navigation, merits careful and thorough study. By its guidance the ship, with its valuable souls and property, may be conducted unerringly over the vast sea; but he who consults it must have no superficial knowledge, but a thorough and compete research into the various causes of variation from the facts which would apparently indicate, and the ability to apply the causes to attain the truth.”

I tried earlier to install the e-book app which you need to download the book but that failed on the iPad. I suspect that it will install on a Android OS. Battle of the giants…

Try Stark Tables: For Clearing the Lunar Distance and Finding Universal Time by Sextant Observation by Bruce Stark. It’s not Bowditch but it might explain what you’re looking for. Basically it’s lunar distance tables and how to work them out.

2 Likes

Yes, that was the solution. As a backup I have a Pixi 3 tablet with Android OS. Downloaded the Google e-book reader from the Google store et voila c’est ca tout!

Dutchie,

Many thanks for the link. I look for old copies of Bowditch and other navigation books in used book stores and thrift stores all the time. The oldest I have found is circa 1938. Good stuff, thanks again.

Best Regards,

Seago


Dutchie
gCaptain Crew

    July 6

Seago:
I have been looking for several decades

The first major revision, really a complete overhaul, was released in 1882, edited by P. H. Cooper. Large sections have been completely excised and the book is now much shorter. Bowditch’s old chapter on lunars has been mostly dropped and the only method for clearing lunars is Chauvenet’s. Lunars were almost never used at sea in this period. Chauvenet as a paperback costs 15.99 dollar and as a hardcover 27.99, free shipment.

IMG_4787

Another method is to go this website with Bowditch editions. For instance click on Bowditch 11th Ed. 1839 and scroll down to the contents and you will find in the column on the right side several items about lunars. The only problem is that it is somewhat hard to read…

Going through a number of editions I found quite some changes on the subject.

1 Like

Did you happen across Seamanship and Navigation by Edmund Gibbson by chance?

Thanks for the link. Some more “light” reading for me.

Deak Ape, Thanks for the link. I am adding this to my list.

Do you mean ‘Basic Seamanship and Navigation’? That can be downloaded as an e-book here. It is Gibson with one b.

Sorry, I cannot find it in the store…

Ditto, oldest I found was a 1917 edition, Third Reprint. Not the best ten bucks I’ve spent in a bookstore but certainly not the worst. The owner had left a bit of personal correspondence from the Hydrographic Office concurring in some errors he presumably brought to their attention and his handwritten cheat sheet on calculating great circle distances.

2 Likes

Yes, that’s it. I have a copy I picked up at a used book store years ago. I was wondering how popular it was, what other books on that subject might have been in common use in recent years etc.

There is Knights in use, by far the most popular books are yacht stuff it seems.

There is an interesting link with a lot of maritime books, 11 pages!

There are many more yachts then deep sea vessels and all those yachties are in need of education…

1 Like

Here’s a reprint of the original American Practical Navigator:

The New American Practical Navigator: Being an Epitome of Navigation; Containing All the Tables Necessary to Be Used With the Nautical Almanac, in … Latitude, and Longitude by Lunar Observations

1 Like

Here’s a review:

This is a very nice reproduction of the sixth edition (1826) of Nathaniel Bowditch’s New American Practical Navigator. Bowditch was still revising the editions himself at this point, and the volume contains all that is necessary to be a 19th century (pre chronometer) navigator. It does not pretend to look old, but instead is a very handy paperback which is easy to browse. If you can’t afford an original and you’re tired of scanning through the (excellent) online copies, then this may be for you.

2 Likes

I have a 1967 coppy of the Nautical Almanac the 200 th Edition it contains the full original explanation with worked examples the English is a bit hard to follow and of cause they used Right Accention in stead of Greenwich Hour angle