Lectures

Lost Without Longitude

Navigation Lecture Series

Lecture by Alyssa Goodman, Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University, and Research Associate, Smithsonian Institution

One of the most important scientific challenges in early 18th-century Europe was the search for a reliable way to determine longitude at sea. Using a free interactive program called “WorldWide Telescope,” Alyssa Goodman will demonstrate how various historic and modern systems for measuring longitude at sea work (or fail to work), highlighting key life-saving techniques to find one’s position using the motions of stars and moons, as well as magnetic anomalies. Go back in time and discover what it was like to find one’s way before the era of GPS devices and smartphones.

Photo courtesy of Alyssa GoodmanPhoto courtesy of Alyssa Goodman

Free and open to the public.


The navigation lecture series is part of the Academic Ventures program at the Radcliffe Institute. A larger, one-day public symposium on the topic took place on Friday, November 14, 2014.