Importance Of Measuring Meridian Arcs Essay

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The completion of the survey of a great chain of first order triangulation’s along the arc of the 30th meridian of east longitude, from South Africa to Egypt, is considered one of the most exceptional surveying feats to ever be executed in Africa and thus its history has interested geodetic surveyors throughout the world. This paper aims to expatiate on the importance of measuring meridian arcs, the need to establish a geodetic survey in a country or continent and subsequently will recount the sequence of events that led to the 75 year length completion of the African arc.
The size and shape of the Earth have been of interest to man since the earliest of times, dating as far back to Eratosthenes in the third century. Throughout the years during the 18th and 19th century, geodesists were pre-occupied with the task of devising a more accurate determination of the size and shape of the Earth. This led to the observing of necessary triangulations along arcs to determine the radius of the Earth and its degree of flattening (MacDonald, 2000). The African arc, conceived by Sir David Gill, Her Majesty 's Astronomer at Cape Town, was created with the understanding that it would contribute immensely to the better knowledge of the form and dimensions on the Earth (Smith, 2006) therefore adding value to the advancement of geodesy. However, besides the need to determine more accurate dimensions for the Earth (Hendriks, 1955), there was a pressing need to establish a reliable and

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