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

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Re: Refraction question
From: Fred Hebard
Date: 2004 Nov 13, 21:38 -0500

```On Nov 13, 2004, at 6:32 PM, Alexandre Eremenko wrote:

> I have a question about land observations
> (NOT using natural horizon, say art horizon,
> or distances).
> My altitude over the sea level is 530 m.
> This should somehow affect refraction (decrease the
> magnitude of the correction?).
> How much? Can I rely on the almanac refraction tables
> in my observations? They are surely made for the sea
> level.
>
> I have an unexplained error of the order of 0.3'
> in many of my observations. Can my altitude be
> responsible for this?
>
> Alex.
>
>

Alex,

Aside from Frank Reed's formulas, Table A4 of the Nautical Almanac
allows you to correct your refraction for non-standard barometric
pressures and temperatures.  It is useful up to elevations of about
2000 feet above sea level.  (I might also add that the elevation of
Purdue is probably about 530 feet not 530 meters).  You would need to
know by how much your elevation decreases barometric pressure; at 2000
feet our pressures are reduced about 2 inches of Mercury from the
reported values, which are adjusted to sea level. Barometers also
usually are adjusted for the local elevation to give sea-level values.
Hopefully somebody here will chime in with the correction formula.

If you study Table A4, you will find that changes in refraction for
normal altitudes (above 20 degrees) only occur at temperatures above 50
F or below 20F.  At temperatures of 60-70 F, the correction is only
0.1' of arc for altitudes above 20 degrees.  Thus your unexplained
errors of 0.3' of arc probably would not be due solely to non-standard
conditions, if the observations were taken in the last month or so near
Chicago and were altitude shots.

A timing error of 1 second can easily lead to errors of 0.15' of arc.
This would be another area to examine.  For altitude shots, I usually
set the sextant and let the body drift into position, so as to time the
contact accurately.

Fred

```
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