Kane’s Mysterious Waters: Transient Polynyas

Led by Elisha Kent Kane, M.D., the Second Grinnell Expedition (1853-1855) continued on-going searches for the missing Franklin Expedition. According to Kane’s writings in Arctic Explorations, his approach was to take a course that should “lead most directly to the open sea of which he had inferred the existence” and to “examine the [Greenland] coast-lines […]

Understanding by Degrees: The Open Polar Sea (Part 3 of 3)

Posted by on Dec 15, 2013 in Arctic Visions | No Comments

During the 19th century, some scientists and explorers believed (or wanted to confirm) that an Open Polar Sea existed north of Ellesmere Island and Greenland, presumably as an ice-free area of navigable water in the region of the Lincoln Sea. Much like the search for the Northwest Passage, this legendary open sea was thought to […]

Understanding by Degrees: Determining Longitude (Part 2 of 3)

Posted by on Nov 25, 2013 in Arctic Visions | No Comments

In the previous post, I outlined the basic concepts for obtaining latitude by sextant sightings at local solar noon, and illustrated how masters and astronomers on 19th century Arctic-exploring ships determined their northern position whether on the open ocean or trekking across glaciers on foot or by dog sledge. When navigating the open ocean, 19th […]

Understanding By Degrees: Determining Latitude (Part 1 of 3)

Posted by on Oct 28, 2013 in Arctic Visions, Navigation | 2 Comments

Arctic explorers in the 19th century routinely used a sextant for celestial navigation to determine their location at sea and when trekking across glaciers and other terrain on foot or by dog sledge. This first of three posts discusses basic principles of obtaining solar-noon latitude by sextant and the inherent errors often present when attempting […]

Silenced in Arctic Eternity

Posted by on Oct 23, 2013 in Arctic Visions, Poetry | No Comments

Scattered rocks amongst a weather-worn Headstone marked August Sonntag’s humble Gravesite. On a desolate moraine, Donald MacMillan bore witness to the isolated tomb, In stark solemnity, a single photograph taken In broad Arctic sunlight. Fifty years after Sonntag’s death, MacMillan Recollected tragic events that demoralizing Hayes to grieving silence. Icy water paralyzed Sonntag’s gallant heart, […]