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Transit of Venus: The Other Half of the Longitude Story

In 1707, four British ships mistook the ironically named Scilly Islands, 30 miles east of Cornwall, at the northern entrance to the English Channel, for Ushant, off the coast of Brittany, at the southern entrance to the English Channel. Fourteen hundred men died. It was just one of thousands and thousands of wrecks caused by a ship’s not knowing where it was.

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