GEORGE BERNARD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GEORGE BERNARD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Natives in Tahiti set sail in traditional boats. This engraving first appeared in 1777 in a book describing the voyages of Captain James Cook, the English explorer who mapped the Pacific Ocean and Australia. Cook visited Tahiti in 1769 with observers for the transit of Venus, on behalf of the Royal Society of London. At that time observations of transits of inner planets across the face of the Sun were one of the principal ways of estimating the Earth-Sun distance. Tahiti was also visited by Captain Bligh on the Bounty in 1788, shortly before his crew mutinied. The island is now a French colony.
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