Case in point: In chapter 38 of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Captain Nemo has steered his underwater vessel Nautilus into a strange isle within the Antarctic. He means to set foot where no man has set before: the South Pole. In this new land, he waits for the sun to shine its rays at noon, to determine his exact position. Apparently, it's been cloudy for the past two days, and this is the last day the sun will shine before it passes the equinox and doesn't rise again for another six months. Let's take a look, shall we?
Captain Nemo, provided with a reticulated glass which, by means of a mirror, corrected the refraction, watched the sun as it disappeared gradually below the horizon describing an elongated diagonal. I held the chronometer. My heart beat quickly. If the disappearance of half the disc coincided with the noon of the chronometer, we were at the Pole itself.
'Twelve!' I cried.
'The South Pole!' answered Captain Nemo in a grave tone, giving me the glass which showed the sun cut in exactly equal halves by the horizon.
I looked at the last rays crowning the peak, and the shadows gradually mounting its slopes.
At that moment Captain Nemo, resting his hand on my shoulders, said, -
'Professor, in 1600 the Dutchman Gheritk, carried along by currents and tempests, reached 64° of south latitude, and discovered the new Shetlands. In 1773, on the 17th of January, the illustrious Cook, following the 38th meridian, reached latitude 67° 30; and in 1774, on the 30th of January, on the 109th meridian, he reached 71° 15 of latitude. In 1819 the Russian Bellinghausen reached the 69th parallel, and in 1821 the 76th by 111° of west longitude. In 1820 the Englishman Brunsfield was stopped on the 65th degree. The same year the American Morrel, whose recital is doubtful, ascending the 42nd meridian, discovered open sea in latitude 70° 14. In 1825 the Englishman Powell could not cross the 62nd parallel. The same year a simple seal-fisher, the Englishman Weddel, reached 72° 14 of latitude on the 35th meridian, and 74° 15 on the 36th. In 1829 the Englishman Forster, commanding the Chanticleer, took possession of the Antarctic continent in 63° 50 of latitude; in 1832, on 5th of February, Adelaide Land in 68° 50 of latitude. In 1838 the Frenchman Dumont d'Urville, stopped by the icebank in 62° 57 of latitude, sighted Louis-Philippe Land; two years later, on a new point in the south, he named, in 66° 30 on January 21, Adelaide Land; and, eight days after in 66° 30 Clarie Coast. In 1838 the Englishman Wilkes reached the 69th parallel on the 100th meridian. In 1839 the Englishman Balleny discovered Sabrina Land on the limits of the Polar circle. Lastly, in 1842, the Englishman James Ross, with the Erebus and Terror, on the 12th of January, in 76° 56 of latitude and 171° 7 of east longitude, discovered Victoria Land; on the 23rd of the same month he reached the 74th parallel, the highest point obtained till then; on the 27th he was in 76° 8, on the 28th in 77° 32, on the 2nd of February in 78° 4, and in 1842 he returned to the 71st degree, beyond which he could not go. I, Captain Nemo, on the 21st March, 1868, have reached the South Pole on the 90th degree, and I take possession of this part of the globe, equal to the sixth part of known continents.'
'In whose name, captain?'
'In my own, sir.'
So saying, Captain Nemo unfurled a black flag, bearing an N in gold, quartered on its bunting. Then, turning towards the sun, whose last rays were lapping the horizon of the sea, he exclaimed, -
'Adieu, sun! Disappear, thou radiant star! Rest beneath this free sea, and let a six months' night spread its darkness over my new domain!'