~ British Captain James Cook
Two hundred years ago, in 1820, Russian Admiral Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen became the first explorer to set eyes upon Antarctica.
This came nearly fifty years after Captain Cook, in 1773, made maritime history by being the first to cross the Antarctic Circle, aboard the HMS Resolution.
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An English translation of these volumes (Двукратные изыскания в Южном Ледовитом океане и плавание вокруг света в продолжение 1819-1821) was edited by Frank Debenham, one of the surviving members of Robert Scott’s ill-fated 1910-1913 Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole. It was first published in London as The Voyage of Captain Bellingshausen to the Antarctic Seas, 1819-1821 Volume I-II.
Just several days after Bellingshausen’s first sighting, a British expedition, led by Edward Bransfield (and captained by William Smith), spotted from their ship several distant mountains standing on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. They had returned to the area of the New South Shetlands, discovered (after having been blown off course in the Drake Passage) and named by Smith a year earlier in February 1819. The first substantiated landing on the Antarctic mainland was not made until 1895.
Geographical coordinates are expressed by latitude and longitude. Latitude measures the angular distance of a place north and south of the equator, defined as 0 degrees; the North Pole is 90 degrees north; the South Pole 90 degrees south. Longitude is the angular distance of a place east or west of the 0-degree Prime Meridian at Greenwich, England. St Petersburg’s latitude is N59°93'; the expedition was at a similar latitude, but in the South. The Antarctic Circle lies at an approximate latitude of 66.5 degrees south of the equator.
In February 2020, A-68A began moving into open waters. On 23 April 2020, a chunk measuring about 175 sq km broke free from the iceberg, dubbed A-68C.
Bellingshausen’s family migrated from Germany to Saaremaa (then known as Ösel) in the 16th century. In 1721, the area was ceded to the Russian Empire during the reign of Peter the Great. Thereafter, subjects entering government service who were not ethnic Russians were expected to adopt Orthodox forenames and patronymics. Thus, after receiving his commission as a midshipman, Fabian Bellingshausen (named after his father) took the name Faddei Faddeyevich (for St. Thaddeus of Edessa) — Фаддей a Беллинсгаузен.
The Tierra del Fuego archipelago lies south of the Strait of Magellan. In 1578, the English privateer Sir Francis Drake was blown by a storm out of the strait farther south into unknown waters (now known as the Drake Passage) that implied an ocean existed below the South American continent.
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