Article ID: CBB318620976

The 1833 time ball at Port Louis, Mauritius: the forgotten service for chronometer calibration (2019)


The time ball service at Port Louis, Mauritius started in April 1833, six months before the Greenwich service. It was established by John Augustus Lloyd who had been appointed Surveyor-General and Civil Engineer in 1831. His chosen time ball arrangement, described in a lecture by Sir John Herschel in London during 1836, used a stationary black ball on a white background behind a shutter whose complete closure, not the moment of release, signalled the exact time. Lloyd departed Mauritius in 1849. The time service appears to have deteriorated through the 1850s and 1860s, with only an intermittent flag signal for an extended period, although a conventional time ball had been erected high on Signal Mountain in 1866.

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Authors & Contributors
Kinns, Roger
Debru, Claude
DiSalle, Robert
Hashimoto, Takehiko
Roberts, G. W.
Croucher, John S.
British Journal for the History of Science
Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage
Science in Context
East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal
Science-Fiction Studies
Antiquarian Horology and the Proceedings of the Antiquarian Horological Society
University of Chicago Press
Palgrave Macmillan
Carocci Editore
Time measurement
Chronometers, marine
Instruments, navigational
Helmholtz, Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von
Mach, Ernst
Poincaré, Jules Henri
Pynchon, Thomas
Smyth, Charles Piazzi
Higginson, Harry Pasley
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
20th century, early
Edo period (Japan, 1603-1868)
18th century
Great Britain
Indian Ocean
National Maritime Museum (Great Britain)
Great Britain. Royal Navy
Royal Observatory Greenwich

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