Originally Posted by goboatingnow
My understanding of various readings, is that the lunar distance method , make popular by Maskelyne and promoted by the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, standardized the mariners time reference at Greenwich, Since time east was plus and time west was minus and longitude is merely an expression of time, it followed that Longitude was expressed in + and - degrees around greenwich.
Makes eminently good sense to me.
As far as latitude goes, given that the equator represents the mean plane of the sun, and that it travels approximately symmetrically about this mean, (and consequently multiple navigational and climate phenomena are similarly symmetrical), it seems to me that a "North Pole Zero" (or 180 ;-) would be pretty inconvenient, yielding lopsided figures for locations equidistant north and south of the equator (like Cancer vs Capricorn, for one example)
(incidentally, standard engineering practice is for planes of symmetry to represent zero datums wherever possible, for convenience and fewer errors).