Observations on the transit of Venus, 1769.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Account from 'Complete History of Captain Cook's First, Second and Third Voyages' (1784): while the 'gentlemen and officers' were viewing the transit, some spike-nails were stolen. The thief, when discovered, was given two dozen lashes. Captain James Cook (1728-1779), the famed navigator and hydrographer, transformed the West's knowledge of the Pacific region after making three exploratory voyages there and circumnavigating the globe twice. On this, his first voyage (1768-1771), in the 'Endeavour', the ship's mision was to observe the transit of Venus acros the sun as viewed from Tahiti, and to seek out the fifth continent - Australia. In both cases the voyage was a succes.