Newly discovered navigational notes by Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary indicate he came no closer than 121 miles from his goal of reaching the North Pole but made the claim anyway, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The notes could settle a longstanding controversy among historians over whether the famed explorer really did reach the North Pole, and if he didn't, whether he knew how far off the mark he was.Dennis Rawlins, a Baltimore astronomer and historian, deciphered a navigational note taken by Peary the day he later claimed to have reached the North Pole, the Post said. Rawlins said that the slip of paper, which consists of sextant readings and other calculations made by Peary during the northernmost point in his 1909 journey, shows that Peary was 121 miles from the pole, assuming Peary's calculations were correct. (If Peary didn't get there first, who did? )