A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
Re: Celestial Navigation
From: Vic Fraenckel
Date: 2002 Jul 1, 17:55 -0400
From: Vic Fraenckel
Date: 2002 Jul 1, 17:55 -0400
George, This is your reply from the maillist so at least I am getting stuff. Thanks Vic ________________________________________________________ Victor Fraenckel - The Windman firstname.lastname@example.org KC2GUI www.windsway.com Home of the WindReader Electronic Theodolite Read the WIND "Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival." - Winston [Leonard Spencer] Churchill (1874 - 1965) Dost thou not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed? -Count Oxenstierna (ca 1620) ----- Original Message ----- From: "George Huxtable"
To: Sent: Monday, July 01, 2002 4:39 PM Subject: Re: Celestial Navigation | Vic Fraenckel wrote- | | >I joined this Mail List back in March. I have not received any mail from the | >list in the past month or two. Is anyone out there any more? | | There has been a reduction in traffic on this list in the last 6 weeks or | so but if you have received nothing at all, something has gone wrong. But | in that case, you won't receive this message either, so how do we tell you | so? I will send this message to the Nav-L list and also copy it to your own | email address. | | >I have wanted to do tableless celestrial navigation on my computer for quite | >some time and have been searching for a way to do this. My trusty Google | >engine finally hauled me to Paul J. Heafner's "Funamental Ephemeris | >Computations" and the "JPL Planetary and Lunar Ephemerides" CDROM. | | I am unaware of the Heafner work. But I wonder if you are taking the hard | road to your goal. | | It is quite possible, and very satisfying, to write your own substitute for | the almanac, especially if you are a software professional. I am only a | dabbler, but have used for many years routines I've written in Bastard | Basic to run on a Casio programmable calculator. It will be much easier on | a proper computer. | | Put it together a bit at a time, starting with the Sun, which is the most | useful body. You will need this Sun prediction routine when you come to | compute planet positions (a much more complex matter). Stars are relatively | simple but (depending on how wide a choice of stars you intend to offer) | involve entering a lot of data precisely. | | I know, and thoroughly recommend, Jean Meeus' "Astronomical Algorithms" | (2nd ed. was 1998) and its paperback predecessor, "Astronomical Formulae | for Calculators (2nd ed.was 1982), from which the later work was enlarged. | For the job you are tackling, you should certainly have one of these at | hand. | | Be aware that astronomers and navigators have some rather different | concepts. Where we use altitude and azimuth, they prefer to have a position | in the sky defined in terms of declination and right-ascension, which are | marked on the graduated circles of their polar-mounting telescopes, and in | which a star's position is very-nearly constant. When an astronomer | condescends to use azimuth, it is often measured from the South point, not | clockwise from the North. Time is often measured by astronomers in terms of | sidereal time rather than in UT (GMT). | | Navigators usually think in terms of the convenient fiction of the Sun | going round the Earth, rather than vice versa. So to obtain the direction | of the Sun from the Earth, in, say, Meeus, you have to use the formulae for | the direction of the Earth from the Sun, and then take the exact opposite. | | I'm not familiar with the JPL Ephemerides, but understand that they take | predictions to a much higher level of accuracy than a navigator would ever | need. Meeus, too, gives many more terms in his expansions in terms of angle | than a navigator, aiming at an overall accuracy of 0.1 minutes of arc, ever | requires. It calls for a bit of common sense to truncate the operation at a | sensible level. Meeus provides guidance about this. Even so, predictions | for the most difficult cases, Jupiter, Saturn, or the Moon, may call for | nearly 100 such terms. | | This will allow you to compute, for the next 100 years or so, the position | of any navigational body as seen from the centre of a transparent Earth | (just what the almanac does, for one year at a time). Given an assumed | position, it's then easy to compute the necessary corrections for | height-of-eye, dip, and refraction, to a sextant observation, and derive a | position line. Meeus has the formulae for doing this. | | Make no mistake, the operation you propose will involve a lot of | head-scratching and puzzling, but it's worth it in the end. And it's far | more satisfying to use routines you have written yourself, so you can | tinker and adapt them, rather than copy in someone else's routines that you | may not fully understand. | | If you still find difficulties, the Nav-L list will, I'm sure, do its best | to help. | | Enjoy the challenge! | | George Huxtable. | | | | I have | >been studying the book to try and get an understanding of what's going on in | >there. In the past couple of months I have progressed about 1/3 of the way | >thru the book and have tried out many of the routines found there. Now that | >I have invested a goodly amount of time in this project I have come to the | >point of wondering if I am barking up the wrong tree. The focus of the book | >is Astronomy. As I am coming into this as a beginner as far as the Astronomy | >is concerned, I would like to know or understand that this research is going | >to provide me with what my goal is - tableless celestrial navigation. | >Programming is NO mystery to me as a retired Software Engineer. I am | >assuming that given the understanding of extracting data from the JPL | >Ephemerides and massaging it with software will yield me the figures that | >are equilvalent to those that we all can find in the Nautical Almanac and | >that I will end up with the proper algorithms to go from sextant to a | >position that is reliable. | > | >ANY enlightenment would be greatly appreciated. | > | >TIA | > | >Vic | | ------------------------------ | | email@example.com | George Huxtable, 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK. | Tel. 01865 820222 or (int.) +44 1865 820222. | ------------------------------ |