Drawing The Line  by Mike Frost

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Cartoon by Harry Dierken

 

Drawing The Line - a talk by Mike Frost

 

This is the story of two men, one from the West Country, the other from County Durham, who drew a line across the North American continent.

 

Their names were Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, and they were astronomers.

 

Mason and Dixon had already taken part in one astronomical expedition, to observe the 1761 Transit of Venus, and went on to take part in several other great scientific projects of the eighteenth century - measuring the shape of the Earth and determining the strength of gravity.

 

The line they gave their name to, the Mason-Dixon line separating Pennsylvania and Maryland, has become a synonym for the fault lines which have split America, from the Civil War to the present-day, and has inspired many cultural works; I reference Mark Knopfler and Thomas Pynchon among others.

 

Next talk  The Yerkes Observatory

 

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