Ships, Clocks and Stars exhibition at the National Maritime Museum closing soon

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Time is running out for Sydneysiders to discover the extraordinary story of the race to determine longitude at sea in the major exhibition Ships, Clocks & Stars: the Quest for Longitude at the National Maritime Museum, closing 30 October 2016.

Developed by Royal Museums Greenwich, the award-winning exhibition draws on the latest research and many rare artefacts to shed new light on the history of longitude and how it changed our understanding of the world.

For hundreds of years, European merchants staked their fortunes on long-distance voyages. Travel at sea was dangerous and safe passage relied on fair weather and effective navigation. Unlike on land, the sea has no fixed points to help mariners determine their position. This could lead to unnecessarily long voyages or the loss of ships, cargo and life. The Longitude Act offered life-changing rewards for a workable solution. Eventually, two solutions emerged: one relied on timekeepers and the other on celestial bodies.

Visitors to Ships, Clocks and Stars will see dozens of unique artefacts, many never before seen in Australia. These include an engraving of the Longitude Act from the 1700s, stunning replicas of John Harrison’s famous timekeepers H1, H2 and H3, Harrison’s original H4 sea watch, and many other exquisite timepieces dating to the 1600s and 1700s. Additional objects of note include Jacob Aertsz Colom’s celestial globe from the 1600s, original paintings of John Hadley, Galileo Galilei and Captain James Cook, and early navigational instruments.

The exhibition also features items relating to early European presence in Australian waters. These include a number of objects associated with Capt. William Bligh, who survived a 47-day, 6,701-kilometre open-boat voyage after being cast adrift by the Bounty mutineers. Items associated with Cook’s second and third voyages of discovery include timekeepers K1 and K3 (made by Larcum Kendall), a sextant and a ‘dip circle’. K1 was also was the timekeeper that navigated the First Fleet to Australia.

Proudly supported by major partner United Technologies Corporation, The Australian National Maritime Museum is the only place to see this international blockbuster before it ends its tour of three continents on 30 October. Tickets are $20 adults, $12 concession and accompanied children go FREE. For further information and to book your ticket visit

The Australian National Maritime Museum, in Darling Harbour, is open from 9.30am to 5pm daily. All enquiries (02) 9298 3777 or visit

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