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: Sight Reduction Formula Question
    From: Bill B
    Date: 2005 Jan 7, 23:10 -0500

    A lot for a liberal arts major to follow.  My question. Susan Howell states
    (for the longer of the two formulas Fried gave) "if sin LHA is less than 0,
    Zn = Z, if sin LHA is equal to or greater than 0, Zn = 360 - Z."
    Do you perceive this as a reasonable litmus test, or is it flawed in your
    learned opinion?  More probable, have I entirely missed the point?
    > From George.
    > No, not just a 180 deg ambiguity. It's far more awkward than that. A 180
    > degree ambiguity would be rather easy to allow for.
    > If you derive Z from its cosine, then when cos Z = +.98 (for example), then
    > Z = 11.5 degrees. Or else -11.5 degrees (same as 348.5 deg). It's not too
    > hard to sort out which, between those two, because if you sketch it out,
    > it's obvious, if the body is passing to your North, that if its still to
    > your East, then it has to be in the NE sector, so Z must be 11.5. So it
    > depends on your lat, the dec of the body, and the sign of its its LHA, all
    > of which are known.
    > In the convention I use, North is positive, and West is positive, so hour
    > angles are always increasing, and Az is measured clockwise from North
    > (which differs from the convention used by many astronomers).
    > For the formula that derives Z from its cosine, the ambiguity problem is
    > easy to resolve, by inspection. However, another problem remains: that near
    > azimuths of O deg (North) and 180 deg (South), the cosine changes hardly at
    > all for quite large changes of azimuth. So in order to obtain the azimuth
    > with any accuracy when near due North or due South, you need to know its
    > cosine VERY precisely indeed. That implies that the altitude H, which was
    > calculated at an earlier stage, also needs to have been obtained to a high
    > accuracy. Otherwise you might find that cos Z might turn out to be greater
    > than 1, which would be embarrassing. Fortunately Z is seldom required to
    > great accuracy.
    > Now consider the other formula, deriving Z from its sine. If, in this case,
    > that formula has given us sin Z = +0.98, what do we do then? Well, one
    > solution is that Z = 88.5 deg, which might well be the right answer. On the
    > other hand, sin 101.5 deg is also +0.98, so that's an equally valid answer.
    > It could be either, then. How do we discover which is the one we want? In
    > this case, there's no simple way, that I know of, to resolve the ambiguity
    > by using inspection and logic to determine whether the wanted result is
    > just North of East or just South of East.
    > You will find the advice, in some textbooks, "just take a compass bearing
    > on the body, and it should be easy to distinguish which one is right".
    > Well, perhaps that's reasonable, in that widely-spread example, but say the
    > two possible angles were closer, say 88 deg and 92 deg. Would you be sure
    > which was the right one then? And anyway, if you're prepared to accept a
    > compass-bearing for azimuth, why are you bothering to calculate it?
    > No, deriving azimuth from its sine is the worst possible option. In
    > addition, it has the same problem of inaccuracy as the cos Z method, but
    > this time for azimuths that are near East and West.
    > There's a third option, that for some reason doesn't find its way into many
    > textbooks. Get the azimuth from its tan!
    > This formula is-
    > Tan Z = sin (hour-angle) / (cos (hour-angle) sin lat - cos lat tan dec)
    > and the rules for putting Z into the right quadrant, 0 to 360, clockwise
    > fron North, are-
    > If tan Z was negative, add 180 deg to Z.
    > If hour-angle was less than 180 deg, add another 180 deg to Z.
    > You can see from this that the calculated altitude doesn't even enter into
    > the formula above, so there's no longer a requirement to calculate altitude
    > at all, if only an azimuth was going to be needed.
    > With a programmable calculator or computer which can derive polar
    > coordinates using the "POL" or "ATAN2" function, it's even simpler, as that
    > function is designed to put the result into the correct quadrant
    > automatically.
    > For example, in Casio Basic,
    > use X = POL ((Tan dec cos lat - cos (hour-angle) sin lat), - sin (hour-angle))
    > and then the azimuth will appear in variable Y, as an angle measured
    > clockwise from North between -180 and + 180 deg. You can put this into 0 to
    > 360 notation, if you need to, by simply adding 360 deg if it's negative.
    > But don't try simplifying out that expression above for X by cancelling any
    > minus-signs, or you will spoil it.
    > Using the tan Z expression, then tan Z is changing quickly with azimuth at
    > all angles, so there are no "dead-spots" with low accuracy, as exist in the
    > other methods. I don't understand why it's not used more widely.
    > George.
    >> --- Fred Hebard  wrote:
    >>> I believe Turner gives the reason for the longer
    >>> formula and also shows
    >>> the shorter one, saying the shorter one can be
    >>> inaccurate in some cases.
    >>> Fred
    >>> On Jan 7, 2005, at 10:24 AM, Fried Squash wrote:
    >>>> In _Celestial for the Cruising Navigator_ by Merle
    >>>> Turner, the navigational triangle azimuth formula
    >>> is
    >>>> given as:
    >>>> cos Z = (sin d - (sin L * sin H ))/(cos L * cos H)
    >>>> but Dutton's Navigation and Piloting gives the
    >>> much
    >>>> simpler:
    >>>> sin Z = ( cos d * sin t ) / cos H
    >>>> They both seem to work.  But there must be some
    >>> reason
    >>>> that the longer one is better, right? Works in
    >>> more

    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