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Science and secret missions in the South Seas; innovations, discoveries and derring do. His observations and use of instruments like the Harrison-designed watch he took on his second voyage would tie their stories closely to each other from this point on. The second Astronomer Royal Edmund Halley believed that he could accurately determine the distance between the planets if he could just get reliable observations around the planet of the highly anticipated transit of Venus.

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It was the first of three Pacific voyages of which Cook was the commander. The aims of this first expedition were to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun 3—4 June of that yearand to seek evidence of the postulated Terra Australis Incognita or "unknown southern land". The voyage was commissioned by King George III and commanded by Lieutenant James Cooka junior naval officer with good skills in cartography and mathematics.

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A chart of the three voyages of James Cook. Red indicates the first voyage, green the second and blue the third. Courtesy Jon Platek and Wikimedia Commons.

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Expedition — : One ship Endeavour94 men Charge by the Royal Society and the British Admiralty : To view the transit of Venus from Tahiti and then to look for the Southern Continent Accomplishments: Viewed the transit of Venus, discovered the Society Islands, made the first circumnavigation and charting of New Zealand, was the first European expedition to reach and chart the eastern shores of Australia. From a scientific viewpoint, worldwide observations of the transit of Venus across the face of the Sun had been a failure. They had not been coordinated enough, and cloudy weather had been a problem in several viewing spots.

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On board were 94 people, including officers, seamen, gentlemen and their servants. The expedition's leader was Lieutenant James Cook, a year-old veteran of the British navy. The voyage's first purpose was to record the transit of Venus at Tahiti; the second, contained in secret instructions, was to travel further south and investigate the possibility of a southern continent.

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Although the Endeavour voyage was officially a journey to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus across the sun, it also had a more clandestine mission from the Royal Society to explore the South Pacific in the name of England. The two botanists on the expedition returned with a collection of plant specimens including an estimated new families and 1, new species of plants, many of which are currently housed in the U. National Herbarium.

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James Cook was born on 27 October in Marton-in-Cleveland as the second son of a Scottish worker. However, settled life did not attract James. Legend says that one day a customer paid him with a special coin having imprinted letters SSC — South Sea Company on it.

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Note regarding proper names and names of places Cook visited on this and subsequent journeys. An unbracketed name is the one given by Cook, on first use, and a modern equivalent follows in brackets, if there is one, or a native one still in use. Modern usage will usually be the form for subsequent entries.

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There had long been a theory among geographers that, in order to balance the world as it spun on its axis, there had to be land in the southern hemisphere equivalent to that in the north. In the British cartographer Alexander Dalrymple published An Account of the Discoveries made in the South Pacifick Oceanwhich argued, from fleeting sightings of land by navigators, that there was an extensive landmass awaiting discovery in the Pacific. By observing the transit from different locations on Earth it was hoped to use the different angles of observation to calculate the distance to the Sun.

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Its ostensible purpose was to return Omaia young man from Raiateato his homeland, but the Admiralty used this as a cover for their plan to send Cook on a voyage to discover the Northwest Passage. Omai was returned to his homeland and the ships sailed onwards, discovering the Hawaiian Archipelagobefore reaching the Pacific coast of North America. The two charted the west coast of the continent and passed through the Bering Strait when they were stopped by ice from sailing either east or west.

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