# NavList:

## A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding

**Re: Horizontal distance off measurements**

**From:**Doug Royer

**Date:**2003 Mar 24, 12:54 -0800

No, I'm not trying to pick an argument or justify myself.I wished to show it was possible is all.In your message you told me "not quite",so that got me thinking and I went back and did some reading and did an exercise to see if it was feasable and share it.If this is how this list works and people are so sensitive to ideas or the way they are presented I'll leave.I was refering to the trig tablrs in Bowditch. -----Original Message----- From: Trevor J. Kenchington [mailto:Gadus@ISTAR.CA] Sent: Monday, March 24, 2003 11:53 To: NAVIGATION-L@LISTSERV.WEBKAHUNA.COM Subject: Re: Horizontal distance off measurements Doug Royer wrote: > On 03-17 @ 212624 hrs. Mr. Kenchington wrote that one cannot use sextant > horizontal angles to find distance off measurements or bearings. I made no such statement. Doug: If you want to pick an argument, or simply find self-justification, you should at least start off by quoting other people correctly. > I must > differ with his opinion.Perhaps he did not understand or misunderstood what > I was trying to explain. I assumed that what you were trying to explain was the method of horizontal sextant angles, which was the method which Rodney Myrvaagnes had mentioned in a message that Peter Fogg inquired about and you then responded to. It now appears that you had a quite different position-fixing method in mind. > The following is a simple explaination of the proceedure taken from the > books "Elements of Navigation" pgs. 140-143 by W.J. Henderson and "Coastal > Pilloting"pgs.89-93 by Commadore R.P. Ferchew.Each book has multiple > examples of the proceedures ranging from a simple 90* angle solution to > complex solutions for acute and obtuse angles. > Using the simple example of one of the objects @ 90* from the observer and > table 31,Bowditch and a calculator I did the exercize. In my Bowditch (1995 edition), Table 31 deals with correction of barometric readings for altitude, which is clearly not what you intended. Could you explain what Table 31 was in your edition, rather than just using the table number? That way, I might have some idea how your method works. > I then used a UTM > projection and using 10 digit coordinates measured the distance between > electrical towers.I then calculated the distance off 2 of the towers and > fixxed a position.To keep the evolution simple I kept the 3 objects as close > to parrallel to my LOP as possible.Useing a handheld GPS I then went to the > calculated position fixxed from the projection.Using a sextant I then took > the Horizontal angles of the towers.I also took the bearings of the > towers.After the calculations were complete I used a laser rangfinder to > measure each distance.The delta between the chart measurements,sextant > measurements and the laser measurements were 5 ft.on the longest leg > distance and 2* T on the bearings.To me that proves one can get accurate > distance off and bearing measurements from Horizontal sextant angles. I don't think that your field experiment was really needed to prove your point. Either you have a way that, geometrically, can produce an estimate of distance off from a horizontal angle or you do not. Whether the necessary measurements can be taken with high precision is a different question entirely. > The example: > C A > B > . . > . > > > > > > . > O > > > Useing dividers measure the distance AB = 300yds. AC = 307 yds. > Useing the sextant find the angles AOB = 11* 32' 13". AOC = 11* 47' 33" > dist. off OB = 300yd./(sin 11*32' 13") = 1500 yds. > dist. off OC = 307 yd/(sin 11*47' 33") = 1502 yds. That can only be true if both the angles OAB and OAC are equal to 90 degrees and hence that A, B and C lie on a straight line. In the special case where that is true and is known to be true, of course a measurement of AOB can be used to calculate the distance OB (and likewise for OC). But unless you already know your position, how can you know that OAB and OAC are right angles? You could by determining the bearing of A from O, along with the bearings of A from B and C. But you would not then be determining distance off by horizontal sextant angles. You would be doing it by the combination of horizontal sextant angles and a bearing. > Set dividers to 1500 yd. and swing an arc from B.Set the dividers to 1502 > yd.and swing an arc from C.Where the 2 arcs intersect will be your > approximate position.Using parrallel rules find the bearings in * T of OB > and OC.Take the dividers and measure the line OA.This will be the distance > off A. Sure it will. But you could have plotted your position by any other means and then subsequently measured the distance from A (or any other point) to your plotted fix. That is only indirectly finding your distance off A. > One can calculate the dist. off A = 300 yd./(tan 11* 32' 13") = 1469.7 > yds. Under the same assumption that OAB and OAC are right angles and hence with the various caveats I have stated above. > A = 307 yd./(tan 11* 47' 33") = 1470.5 yds. > There is also a nice technique for finding the ballpark distance off an > object over terrain useing a mil type lensatic compass I have used with good > results.If anyone is interested I will share it with you. There are probably times when a navigator is more interested in distance off than in a fix of his position and yet wants to use horizontal sextant angles supplemented with other information. A single horizontal angle, combined with one bearing and the application of the Cosine Rule ought to do it. (No need for the second horizontal angle, except as a check.) However, if using horizontal sextant angles alone, you have to first fix your position (which you can do with extreme precision) and then determine the distance from that point to whatever object interests you. I dare say that the mathematicians on this list can figure out how to get the position and thence the distance numerically, without plotting anything on a chart, but the math would only be doing what the rest of us do with a pencil -- finding position first and the distance off only indirectly. Trevor Kenchington -- Trevor J. Kenchington PhD Gadus@iStar.ca Gadus Associates, Office(902) 889-9250 R.R.#1, Musquodoboit Harbour, Fax (902) 889-9251 Nova Scotia B0J 2L0, CANADA Home (902) 889-3555 Science Serving the Fisheries http://home.istar.ca/~gadus