# NavList:

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

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Re: Noon sight for longitude
From: Greg R_
Date: 2008 Jul 10, 12:46 -0700

```The method described in this article is the only way I know of to get a
semi-accurate longitude from a LAN sight. The author doesn't detail the
method used in his last Navigation Newsletter, but seems like trying to
"guesstimate" the time of the sun's meridian passage (at least that's
the implication I get from reading the article) wouldn't be very
accurate because as he points out "the hanging time of the sun, when it
reaches the meridian, is difficult to determine".

That being said, I'm curious what the group's experience has been in
getting an accurate longitude from a LAN sight. Mine's been hit and
miss - sometimes accurate within a mile or so, and others off by 10-20
miles (and enough uncertainty that I'd be skeptical of my longitude
results until I find some way to greatly improve my consistency on
getting accurate results).

--
GregR

--- "Gary J. LaPook"  wrote:

> Here is another article on this subject from Ocean Navigator.
>
> gl
>
>
>

>
>
>
>
>
> April 2008
>
> Another method of obtaining longitude from a noon sight
>
> how
> to obtain longitude from a noon sight using the GHA method. Basically
>
> this method is based on the fact that at the time of meridian passage
> of
> the sun, Greenwich Hour Angle (GHA) is equal to the DR longitude of
> the
> observer. The resulting Local Hour Angle (LHA) is thus equal to zero
> degrees -- which is a definition of meridian passage. This method,
> although reliable, has its drawbacks. This is because the hanging
> time
> of the sun, when it reaches the meridian, is difficult to determine.
> It
> follows that the exact time of meridian passage is questionable.
> Fortunately, there is another method of finding longitude from a noon
>
> sight that eliminates this problem.
>
>     Although I scoured Mixter's, Dutton's, Leaky and Blewett for
> information concerning this technique, it was only in Bowditch that I
>
> found any mention of the procedure. I learned this application from
> my
> friend and navigational mentor, Eben Whitcomb, years ago while
> shipping
> aboard the schooner Harvey Gamage.
>
>     Instead of relying on the GHA we instead take at least two timed
> shots of the sun, while it is ascending, and when it is descending.
> I'm
> certain that there are many variations on the theme, but I will
> explain
> the procedure that I use.
>
>     Roughly 15 minutes (it doesn't need to be exactly 15 minutes)
> before
> the calculated time of Local Apparent Noon (LAN) I take either a
> lower
> or upper limb shot of the sun and mark the time. I then record the
> sextant altitude and the time.
>
>     I record LAN as usual, so I can obtain my latitude. Then after
> the
> time of LAN, I pick up the sextant -- which I then set to the angle
> of
> the shot I took 15 minutes before LAN -- and when the sextant
> altitude
> of the sun is the same going down as it was when it was rising, I
> mark
> and record the time. I then put the sextant away and prepare to
> calculate the exact time of LAN.
>
>     The procedure for finding the exact time of LAN is simple: just
> the two times of the two shots and divide the result by two. This
> will
> yield the time of LAN that you can use to enter into the almanac to
> find
> the necessary information to get the longitude. Let's do an example:
>
>     The day is April 15th. We are at a DR position of 35� 25' N and
> 60�
> 18' W. We want to calculate the longitude from the meridian passage
> of
> the sun. We first see on the daily pages that the time of LAN is 12
> hours and no minutes. This would be for the standard meridian of a
> time
> zone (0�, 15�, 30�, etc.) We think we are at 60� 18' so we have to
> see
> how long it takes the sun to move 18'. Entering the Arc to Time
> Conversion table we find that it takes 1 min. 12 sec., so we can
> estimate that the time of LAN for our DR will be at 12 hours 1 min,
> 12
> sec. I always convert the local time to GMT so we add 4 hours to the
> time of LAN, making it 16:01:12. At 15:45:08 GMT we take a sextant
> sight
> and record the altitude at X�. After we find LAN altitude of the sun,
> we
> reset the sextant to X� and at 16:29:10, the sun is once again at
> that
> altitude.
>
>     We next take the times and add them and then divide by two:
>
>     15:45:08
>   +16:29:10 =
>     32:14:18 / 2 =
>     16:07:09. This is the time of LAN.
>
>     We next go to the daily pages of the Nautical Almanac for 16
> hours
> on April 15:
>
> 16 hours =           60� 01.3' GHA
> +07 min 09 sec   +01� 47.3' =
>                           61� 48.6'
>
>     Longitude at time of sight = 61� 48.6'. Remember the GHA is equal
> to
> the longitude of the observer at the time of LAN so we can convert
> GHA
> into longitude. It is also interesting to notice that the longitude
> puts
> us further to the west of our DR, and we should adjust our plot
> accordingly.
>
>     We will notice that if this method is used, as it is, we have not
>
> discussed latitude. Latitude from a noon sight is easy to obtain, but
>
> the point of this discussion is to see how we can establish longitude
>
>
> Contributing Editor David Berson writes the Nav Problem page in every
>
> issue of Ocean Navigator. He is also the owner and operator of Glory
>

,
>
> an electrically powered excursion boat, in Greenport, N.Y.
>
> Question for David? editors@oceannavigator.com
>
>
>
> More Ocean Navigator Articles
>
> Around the Emerald Isle
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>
> The one in sixty rule
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>
> Do not rely exclusively on GPS
>

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