Welcome to the NavList Message Boards.


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

Compose Your Message

Add Images & Files
    Re: Least squares / was: Jupiter's BIG.
    From: Kieran Kelly
    Date: 2003 Dec 25, 11:40 +1100

    I have been following the discussion in relation to applications of
    line-of-best-fit to a series of lunar distance observations. Mention has
    been made of the analysis I performed on lunar distance observations
    undertaken by the Australian explorer/surveyor Augustus Gregory in 1856 (See
    www.ld-DEADLINK-com for the paper written this subject). I am not a
    mathematician and hesitate to tread such dangerous ground but there may be
    some confusion between consistency, accuracy and precision in this ongoing
    When I applied the line of best fit technique to Gregory's analysis I was
    trying to measure his consistency i.e. the deviation away from a line of
    best fit. This says nothing about accuracy. To determine that I had to find
    the actual location where the sights were performed  and compare this with
    his computed location.
    Alternately, as I now know his exact latitude and longitude  I could have
    calculated the actual lunar distance at the time of the observations and
    plotted these. This would have given a line which could be compared to the
    line of best fit from the observations. Error would have shown  up in a
    different slope to both lines.
    To me these lines tell very different stories. A line of best fit applied to
    a series of observations may be very consistent with a small standard
    deviation and may be also very inaccurate not taking account of systematic
    error such as shade error, incorrect calculation of index error, observer
    bias, or failure to account for temperature and pressure. Thus a series of
    observations may be consistent and also consistently wrong leading to a
    wrong calculation of either GMT from a lunar or position from an astronomic
    In Gregory's case the observations were both consistent and accurate but I
    could not tell this just from a line of best fit of his observations.
    The best explanation for the layman of laying an accurate line of best fit
    to a series of observations and the use of altitude/azimuth diagrams in this
    regard is in George Bennett's book, "The Complete On Board Celestial
    Possibly some of the members more familiar with maths and statistics can
    expand on the differences between accuracy, precision and consistency better
    than myself.
    Merry Christmas from the land down under where it is never a White
    Kieran Kelly
    -----Original Message-----List
    [mailto:NAVIGATION-L{at}LISTSERV.WEBKAHUNA.COM]On Behalf Of Herbert Prinz
    Sent: Thursday, 25 December 2003 1:45 AM
    Subject: Least squares / was: Jupiter's BIG.
    In your original post on this subject, you spoke of using linear regression
    for choosing the "best" single observation from a set. I assume the "best"
    would be the one with the smallest distance from the regression line. Yes?
    You also said, "The data look very nice; not as good as the lunar of that
    Australian explorer Kieran Kelly discussed a few months ago, but very good."
    You did not elaborate on what your criteria are to make data look "very
    good". But you are probably referring to the correlation between distance
    and time. Yes?
    Of course, you can use linear regression in this way only if there is a
    linear dependence between distance and time. Given that Frank's seven, or
    so, observations were taken within twenty minutes and Jupiter was well
    positioned, that's reasonable. We trust Frank that he checked this before he
    shot, but you can't really take it always for granted. For small distances
    or long time intervals, you might consider using a second order polynom for
    your regression.
    In your most recent post, you suggest to use regression for establishing
    chronometer rate. That's an interesting idea. Assuming that chronometer rate
    is constant over a long time, but fluctuates daily with temperature, the
    time shown by chronometer would in essence be linearly dependent on GMT.
    This dependence could be found via a linear regression of observations for
    time of various kinds spread out over a long interval.
    Used in the above way, and used correctly, linear regression could be
    considered a refined way of interpolation of observational data (hence my
    remark about guns and sparrows). However, when I picked up on the term
    "least squares fit" that you used, which is of course at the base of the
    linear regression method, I was not speaking of linear regression at all. I
    was thinking of using a least square fit for the _reduction_ of the sight,
    not for data preparation. I would not know how to reduce a single set of
    distance observations by linear (or any other type of)  regression.
    I conceded that it is possible to use a least square sum method to reduce
    such a single set of distance observations. I am unable to provide at this
    moment the numerical example that you requested, but I will outline in a
    little more detail what I meant by saying in my previous message "solve for
    the watch error for which the sum of the square of the distance residuals
    becomes a minimum". The method I have in mind is nothing special; it is just
    a common technique applied to the particular problem.
    Say, you have a function that gives you the apparent topocentric distance
    between the moon and an other given object as a function of GMT. Such a
    function can be constructed by applying the inverse of any standard distance
    clearing method to the geocentric distances, which in turn may be computed,
    or directly obtained, from an almanac or from an ephemeris program.
            d  =  D(t_gmt, lat, lon)
    You also have a chronometer (watch), showing watch time t with unknown, but
    constant watch error -w.
    A number of n observations (t_k, d_k), k = 1..n, are all taken with this
            t_gmt_k = t_k + w
    Now, if you have exactly one distance observation (d_1, t_1) you can solve
    heuristically the equation
            d_1  =  D(t_1 + w, lat, lon)
    for w, and you are done. (You told us that you have a good computer. Any
    crude method such as bisection will do.) But if you have two or more
    observations (d_k, t_k) you get a system of equations which is
            d_k  =  D(t_k + w, lat, lon)          k = 1..n
    Therefore, introduce a random observation error into your distance
    measurements (I am deliberately skipping a discussion of systematic error
    here. If you know that you have one, eliminate it! If you don't know about
    it, it's not systematic.)
            d_k + e_k  =  D(t_k + w, lat, lon)          k = 1..n
    This system is underdetermined, because you have n equations and n + 1
    variables. But hopeful wishing makes us search for that value of w that
    introduces the minimum observation errors:
            E(w) = Sum(Sqr(e_k), k = 1..n)  .....  min
            e_k  =  D(t_k + w, lat, lon) - d_k          k = 1..n
    In words, E(w) is the sum of the squares of the individual observation
    errors (or distance residuals, as I called it in the earlier message).
    Obviously, E(w) is a function of w. Look for the minimum of this function
    (again heuristically, by iteration) and you have a rigorous solution for the
    most probable watch error belonging to 2 or more observations.
    As you can see, the individual observations need not have anything to do
    with each other. They can be taken at arbitrary times, from arbitrary
    objects. Their only connection is that the observation error is likely to be
    the same for all. This assumption may not always apply, but it is one that
    is often made, for the lack of any better knowledge of it.
    If you wish, you can relax the restriction of constant watch error and feed
    the known watch rate into the formula. As long as you need to iterate
    anyway, you can also in the first formula replace the longitude parameter by
    local apparent time. Or you can even replace the latter together with the
    latitude by two altitude observations. These need not be of the distance
    bodies, any two will do. They also need not be measured at the same time as
    the distances, as long as they are timed with the same watch. But these
    minor improvements and others I leave to your imagination.
    Herbert Prinz

    Browse Files

    Drop Files


    What is NavList?

    Join NavList

    (please, no nicknames or handles)
    Do you want to receive all group messages by email?
    Yes No

    You can also join by posting. Your first on-topic post automatically makes you a member.

    Posting Code

    Enter the email address associated with your NavList messages. Your posting code will be emailed to you immediately.

    Email Settings

    Posting Code:

    Custom Index

    Start date: (yyyymm dd)
    End date: (yyyymm dd)

    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site