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Cook, Captain James

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Definition: Cook, James from

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

, James Known as “Captain Cook.” 1728–1779.


British navigator and explorer who commanded three major exploratory voyages, charting and naming many islands of the Pacific Ocean. He also sailed along the coast of North America as far north as the Bering Strait.

Summary Article: Cook, James (1728-1779) from The Hutchinson Dictionary of Scientific Biography
English sea captain who made notable contributions to hydrography. An agricultural labourer's son born in Marton, Yorkshire, on 27 October 1728. Cook obtained his early experience of the sea by sailing in a Whitby collier before joining the Royal Navy in 1755 as an ordinary seaman. Ambitious and clever, he quickly rose in the service. After much first-rate hydrographical surveying work, undertaken particularly around Newfoundland and the mouth of the St Lawrence River, Cook received in 1768 a commission, via the Royal Society, to take the Endeavour to the newly discovered Tahiti with various scientists, including the naturalist Joseph Banks, to observe the transit of Venus. Observations of transits of the inner planets across the face of the Sun were highly valued amongst astronomers as a means of calculating the distance of the Sun from the Earth. On that voyage, Cook charted the east coast of Australia (exploring Botany Bay)...    Continue Reading
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