As part of the National Trust Festival the Friends of the Laperouse Museum sponsored a tour of historic sites on the La Perouse Headland. The walk and morning tea discussion was called Explorers of the Southern Skies in Botany Bay with Friends member, Lynda Newnam, interpreting the importance of Astronomy to the expeditions of Cook and La Perouse.
(Walkers Starting off with Boatshed, Port and Frenchman’s Bay in background; Bare Island looking across to Cook’s Landing; Macquarie Watchtower; Norfolk Pine Headland Marker & Laperouse Museum; Receveur Grave; Laperouse Monument)
Napoleon had an unexpected connection with the history of astronomy in Australia. When at the Ecole Militaire, he applied to go on the Laperouse expedition. Napoleon was a pupil of Dagelet. Alexander Jean des Mazis, one of Napoleon’s friends at the school, wrote about Napoleon’s application. ‘Buonaparte would have liked the opportunity of displaying his energy in such a fine enterprise as an assistant astronomer.’ Napoleon made the short list but not the final which was drawn up by Condorcet, Jussieu and Buffon. The only pupil of Dagelet’s selected was Darbaud. So Napoleon did not go to Australia but when appointed First Consul he did commission the Baudin expedition.
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