James Landau's citation of Morison's view of the life of Columbus is
admirable. However, looking at the actual texts of the log book on
Columbus' first trip, the armed guards of Polaris, a means to check
between solar and sidereal time, their contents was clearly altered
by Bishop de Landa. There is no question about the modification of
Colombus' first log book, and I therefore extend the abuse of 'poor
editing' to the other three log books.
Concerning the lunar eclipse, on Columbus's second voyage, this method
of longitude calculation was filled with errors, as the late 1600's
Newton debate confirmed. Of course using the lunar eclipse method at
any time, was a method filled with major error rates.
However, solar eclipses, as Columbus experienced and logged on his 4th
trip were not filled with major errors rates. Having the so called
Nuerenburg solar eclipse predictions on board, all that Columbus have
had to do was mark the time of day, as use the Eratostenes and Ptolemy
earth diameter. Since the solar eclipse took place at Jamaica around
noon (as I recall Owen Gingrich writing In Sky and Telescope in 1992,
marking 500 years from Columbus' first trip, a fairly accurate time
would have been available, a major error of 23 degrees would not have
been written down -- in an official Columbus 'hand written' log book!
I can not comment further, at this time, related to Morison's citations.
I do not have a copy of Morison in front of me. From memory, Morison
was once considered the best Columbus scholar; however in the 1990's a
flood of new Columbus books came out, calling several of Morison's major
conclusions (even ones touching on longitude calculations) into question.
In conclusion, I again thank James for a most interesting set of citations.