A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2015 Dec 21, 11:28 -0800
Lee Sublett, you wrote:
"I am located in north Alabama, so even this time of year the sun would still be too high to get a noon shot with the ah."
Did you try it today? You should have had no trouble getting the Sun at noon aligned with its reflection with an angular separation of around 65°. The actual altitude of the Sun at noon today in northern Alabama was about half that: 32° 30' +/- some miles depending on just how far north you are in north Alabama. The noon Sun by A.H. will be in range on your sextant until late March.
When summer comes around, you won't be able to shoot the noon Sun with an artificial horizon, but if you want to continue with your hobby, you can measure the Sun's altitude a few hours before noon and then again a few hours after noon, recording the exact time in each case. That's the standard technique for getting your latitude and longitude. Each sight yields what's called a "line of position", usually abbreviated as "LOP", that cuts diagonally across the map (its direction is perpendicular to the direction where you saw the Sun in the sky at the time of each sight). And where those two lines of position cross, that's where you must be. The 'X' created by the two LOPs is your position "fix".