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Nicolas-Louis De La Caille, Astronomer and GeodesistSouth African Astronomical Observatory$
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Ian Stewart Glass

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199668403

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199668403.001.0001

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The Cape

The Cape

(p.33) 2 The Cape
Nicolas-Louis De La Caille, Astronomer and Geodesist

I.S. Glass

Oxford University Press

La Caille's voyaged to the Cape via Rio de Janeiro with the hydrogapher D'Après de Mannevillette. On arrival he met Governor Tulbagh who befriended him. He lodged with Jan Lourens Bestbier, a German immigrant who could speak French. Tulbagh offered the resources of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to build a small observatory next to Table Bay. This was equipped with several state-of-the-art instruments. He made a telescopic survey of the sky, listing about 10,000 stars, and found it necessary to define a number of new constellations. He also catalogued nebulous objects, considerably increasing the number known. He determined an accurate position for the Cape and studied atmospheric refraction. Other projects included finding the distances of the Moon, Venus and Mars. He further worked towards deriving better orbits of the earth (via the Sun), Mars, Venus and the Moon.

Keywords:   D'Après de Mannevillette. Rio, Cape Town, VOC, Tulbagh, Sky Survey, constellations, nebulae, planetary orbits

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