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    Traditional Chinese navigation
    From: Peter Fogg
    Date: 2002 Dec 21, 11:57 +1100

    Not that I've found much yet, but thought I'd share these few scraps ..
    
    The story goes that the Chinese were bluewater sailing for maybe 6
    centuries before their famous admiral of the 1420s. Seems likely: they
    had good boats and were living through a period of rapid technical
    advances.
    
    
    
    AS the whole world and all the peoples it contained had as its centre
    the emperor so, they observed, did the heavens revolve about Polaris.
    And as the emperor, in his wisdom, did regulate and guide the affairs of
    men then so too did this centre of the universe. In a practical sense it
    gave them their latitude. We would call it their co-latitude, but its
    effectively the same thing. I don't know what units they measured in.
    
    I do know that a printed guide (illustration provided with the text)
    gave captains navigational data to follow - 4 stars (Orion was one) with
    their distance from the horizon measured in 'digits', presumably finger
    widths. This page came from what we would consider as a pilot guide, or
    cruising guide, advice along the lines of: 'When you get here then these
    stars will look like this'.
    
    Somewhere else I found mention of a 'sextant'. This is more than
    intriguing, but I don't know any more. It seems unlikely that any
    machine that did this job would use such crude notation as finger
    widths.
    
    I'm not saying that all or any of this is fact. I'm not a historian, I'm
    just groping towards what appears to be the possiblilty of a whole way
    of navigating that we are largely unaware of. In the unknown lies always
    the possibility that they may have had something we could usefully
    learn.
    
    
    

       
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