Saturday, 29 November 2014

Ships, Clocks and Stars exhibition at the National Maritime Museum


By Muhsin Mustafa

The largest museum of its kind in the world, the National Maritime Museum  in Greenwich is currently hosting the Ships, Clocks and Stars exhibition, which celebrates the 300th anniversary of the Longitude Act. It documents one of the world’s greatest challenges – to understand and calculate longitude simply, which is crucial in maritime navigation.

This exhibition explores the rivalries and inventions of the great scientists of the 17th and 18th centuries – Galileo, Isaac Newton and John Harrison – whose work still influences our lives through satellite navigation, mobile phones and international time zones.

By being able to determine a ship’s position at sea, Britain was able to dominate the world’s oceans, beating Spain, France and Holland in the process.

A major highlight is the display of John Harrison’s legendary clocks. His invention overcame the problems usually experienced with normal clocks, which failed to work on long voyages. You can enjoy these masterpieces, in perfect working order, and see how they evolved over time.

The museum has other activities ideal for the family, such as the Nelson, Navy and Nation exhibition. Or try the Great Map, a virtual world travel and treasure hunt: use a tablet to navigate your ship and collect treasures and crew all over the world.

The museum has a restaurant overlooking Greenwich Park. Or have a picnic outdoors. Admission to the museum is free, although there is a charge for the Ships, Clocks & Stars Exhibition, which runs until 4 January 2015. However, this also includes entry to the Royal Observatory.

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