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Celestial navigation series, part one

Celestial navigation series, part one

We’re revisiting this series on navigating by the sun, moon, stars and planets in the age of GPS because celestial nav is not only a viable backup to satellite navigation, but it is also a skill that ocean voyagers should have in their toolkit.

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More than zoom levels

Aboard our Dufour ketch Terrapin, we use Navionics on our Raymarine chartplotter and also have two Android tablets with the Navionics app as well as OpenCPN with Google Earth charts.

Lunitidal interval

In the small village where I live, I have spread my reputation as someone who knows a thing or two about celestial navigation.

Solstice

According to my well-thumbed and trusty 2016 Nautical Almanac, the declination of the sun was at its northernmost point at 1400 hours on June 20 when it climbed to 23° 26.1’, and it stayed there — as if resting on a rock after a long climb, catching its breath admiring the view — until June 21, when between 0700 and 0800 it roused itself, shook off the cobwebs and moved south 0.1’.

The first point of Aries

Ah, spring! The peepers peep. The woodpeckers peck. The daffodils dazzle and the redwings are back in town, while on the celestial sphere — the region that we celestial navigators think about — the sun has moved from south of the celestial equator to the north on a day referred to as the vernal equinox.

Navigating with a celestial computer

The reality cannot be avoided: In order to learn anything new and get better at it, effort must be applied.

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