Q:

Who discovered longitude and latitude?

A:

Quick Answer

Two Greek mathematicians pioneered research to navigate and map the Earth. Eratosthenes of Cyrene, chief librarian at the Ancient Library of Alexandria, calculated the circumference of the Earth in the third century B.C. In the second century B.C., Hipparchus of Nicea first used mathematics to calculate latitude and longitude, invented the first astrolabe to observe stars and measure latitude, and observed lunar eclipses to propose longitudes for specific cities.

Know More
Who discovered longitude and latitude?
Credit: LWA Digital Vision Getty Images

Full Answer

Not much is known about the work of Eratosthenes and Hipparchus, but what little survives is evidence of how people long ago thought to organize maps into standardized grids. Because Eratosthenes had discovered the circumference of the Earth, Hipparchus could work from his calculations to establish a line of zero latitude (the equator) and lines of longitude. Through his own observations, Hipparchus learned how to measure latitude by observing the movement of stars over time, and he proposed a system of timed measurements to calculate longitude.

Later, Ptolemy was the first to use a constant meridian for drawing maps. Early in the 18th century, English clockmaker John Harrison developed the chronometer, which compensated for ships’ pitch and roll, humidity and other factors. Coupled with accurate star charts developed by Royal Astronomers John Flamsteed and Edmund Halley in addition to a long series of observations from the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, England, this led cartographers to adopt the Greenwich Meridian as a worldwide standard in 1884.

Learn More

Related Questions

  • Q:

    Who discovered copper?

    A:

    Copper was used by ancient cultures, and there is no known person responsible for its discovery. However, estimates place its discovery at about 9,000 BC in the Middle East, according to ProQuest. Functional copper tubing has been found in ancient Egyptian tombs.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Who discovered Mercury?

    A:

    No one knows who discovered Mercury, as it was known to ancient civilizations. Despite the fact that it's a very small planet, it can be seen with the naked eye. However, it's believed that the Romans gave the planet the name Mercury after their fleet-footed messenger god.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Who discovered baking soda?

    A:

    The form of baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate as it is known today, was first produced by Nicolas Leblanc, a French chemist in 1791. It was first mass-produced in a factory in1846 by John Dwight and Austin Church in New York.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How was sulfur discovered?

    A:

    The existence of sulfur dates back to ancient times and is referred to in the Bible as "brimstone." In 1789, a French chemist named Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier recognized it and added it to his famous list of elements. In 1823, a German chemist named Eilhard Mitscherlich discovered sulfur's allotrophy.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore