Struve Geodetic Arc – Calculating the Size of the Earth

It is a concept that started in the year 1816 and was carried out by an astronomer by the name of Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve. During the time of Struve’s existence, the distance between two points was measured by measuring poles. However in order to accomplish the goal that Friedrich von Struve had envisioned - calculating the size of the earth - measuring poles would not be sufficient. To do this a more sophisticated tool would be needed. Before long the Struve Geodetic Arc was created to do just that.

Struve’s invention, the Struve Arc, only ran through two counties, namely Russia and Sweden-Norway. But his surveys, that took place between the years of 1816 and 1855, calculated the very first measurement of a part of the meridian with staggering accuracy. It was the start of topographic mapping and a growing interest in earth sciences. The Struve Arc is a survey triangulation chain which has assisted scientists to map out certain areas and regions of their countries.

The Struve Geodetic Arc is currently a joint venture between scientists of various countries who work together in the name of science. Today the Struve Arc survey chain runs through ten countries, namely Norway, Sweden, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Finland and Estonia, and stretches from Hammerfest (Norway) to the Ukrainian Black Sea. Ukraine has four station points of the arc located at Stara Nekrasivka in the Odessa Oblast, Felschtin, Katerinowka and in Baranowka. The arc chain stretches over a distance of 2820 kilometers and, since the year 1993, all ten countries have been working together to maintain the chain’s station points and to protect the Struve Geodetic Arc. The UNESCO World Heritage organization has listed the Struve Arc as a World Heritage Site and this further serves to protect the arc.

Land measuring has evolved since the German-born scientist developed the Struve Geodetic Arc. Satellites and GPS systems have taken over these responsibilities. Many mapping and survey societies have been fighting for the protection of the Struve Arc as a part of technological and scientific history and, as long as they keep fighting, the future of the arc remains untouched. But no matter how advanced technology gets, Struve did it first.

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