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Celestial navigation

TLDR: Celestial navigation is a way to figure out where you are using stars and other celestial bodies. It's like using the stars as a GPS system.

Celestial navigation, also known as astronavigation, is a method of determining your position on Earth or in space using stars and other celestial bodies. It's a way to figure out where you are without relying on modern technology like GPS. Instead, you use sights, which are timed measurements of the angles between celestial bodies and the visible horizon.

For example, you can take a sight of the sun and the horizon to determine your latitude and longitude. By knowing the exact altitude of the sun and the time of that altitude, you can calculate your position using mathematical formulas. You can also use the moon, planets, or navigational stars to accomplish the same goal.

Celestial navigation is used by navigators on land, in the air, and at sea. It can also be used in space and on other planetary bodies. By taking sights of celestial bodies and using mathematical calculations, you can plot lines of position on a navigational chart or worksheet. These lines intersect at your position, giving you an accurate fix.

To determine longitude, you need to know the time at the prime meridian accurately. This can be done using a chronometer or by using the lunar distance method, which involves measuring the angle between the moon and the sun or other stars. With accurate time and celestial observations, you can calculate your longitude.

Celestial navigation is still taught and used today, although it is often combined with satellite navigation for backup and error checking. It is particularly important for sailors and aviators who venture beyond visual range of land. It is also used in space missions and by private yachtsmen.

In summary, celestial navigation is a method of determining your position using stars and other celestial bodies. By taking measurements and performing calculations, you can plot your position on a chart and navigate accurately. It is a fascinating and important skill that combines science, math, and a bit of stargazing.

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