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Page from Meriwether Lewis' Astronomy Notebook, c. 1803 -1805
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Page from Meriwether Lewis Astronomy Notebook, c. 1803-1805

Credit: Courtesy of Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Columbia, Missouri

In 1803, Robert Patterson gave Lewis this astronomy notebook with instructions for taking latitude and longitude readings. Patterson believed his system "renders the process extremely easy even to boys or common sailors of moderate capabilities." His calculations were in fact so tedious that the coordinates were never calculated and all of Lewis's observations were wasted.

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