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: The cocked hat
    From: Joel Jacobs
    Date: 2004 Apr 4, 09:37 -0400

    This is in response to Robert Enro.
    I have a few problems with Robert's recommending RCAF Navigator's Keith
    Greenway's two sight, two average fix method for use at sea.
    IMO, it is subject to the following deficiencies. Greenway is taking sights
    from an aircraft using a bubble sextant so that the instrument provides the
    same (bubble) horizon no matter in which direction he is shooting. You don't
    have that at sea when using a traditional sextant. As everyone knows, the
    horizon at sea's definition varies with the direction you are looking due to
    differences in light, sea conditions and cloud cover. Therefore, you have
    variables with which Greenway is not confronted since his horizon is a
    The other issue is taking only two sights. I think that's a bad idea because
    an error in one can only be halved when combined with the other. In most
    things, where you are trying to have a definitive outcome it is always wiser
    to use an odd number so that you don't have an even split where one group
    can cancel the other out. I don't understand how Greenway concludes that an
    error in a two sight fix is obvious. IMO, that it is impossible to judge
    which of the two parallel sights is in error. So what do you do? He suggests
    that you go back and shoot it over again. That is not always possible, an if
    it is, because of the significant time lapse, you have  a running fix, not a
    fix. All something to think about.
    Robert, with that nifty and very unusual star finder we discussed off group,
    I suggest you predetermine the alt and az of the bodies beforehand. Set you
    sextant's to same (adjust for IC, REF, HE) accordingly, then adjust for
    variation and deviation, and note the adjusted compass bearing to the body
    for each object, and just aim along that line. You should have the target in
    view. Some minor adjustment's and you have your sight,
    I preferred taking a minimum of three near simultaneous sights of the same
    body, and then moved on to the next. The planning took into account
    diminishing or increasing light conditions, and where I had to position
    myself for steadiness etc., as I moved from one target to the next. I based
    this on where I would have the best horizon. If possible, I always used at
    least three bodies. Two sight fixes would more often be shooting an early or
    late rising planet or moon and crossing it with the sun. Averaging was done
    with a calculator that had the ability to manage time using Sexagsimals,
    base 60 numbering system.
    Let me add, this was more a matter of self-entertainment, because as I've
    said before, when you're out in the middle of the ocean, with no hazards at
    hand, all that precision is unnecessary. But it was fun.
    Joel Jacobs
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Robert Eno" 
    Sent: Saturday, April 03, 2004 11:07 PM
    Subject: The cocked hat
    > I'll throw my two bits' worth in. I agree with Joel and in fact what he
    > describes is more or less the method that I have employed for quite a few
    > years.
    > I'll take it a step further: I generally examine my intercepts before
    > plotting them out, discarding the obviously wonky ones. I do, however,
    > average out sights taken on land with a bubble attachment because bubble
    > attachments are inherently inaccurate and in my experience, it is better
    > take multiple observations of a few stars and average them out.
    > I was persuaded, some years ago, that the 3 star fix is overrated. Better
    > take two observations of two stars.  This is not an an original idea on my
    > part: my inspiration comes from a little-known book -- Arctic Air
    > Navigation -- by a former RCAF Air Navigator, Keith Greenaway:. In his
    > Greenaway writes:
    > "Navigators who use asto continually prefer 2-star fixes with each star
    > sighted twice, rather than 3 star fixes with each star sighted only once.
    > Although an extra sight is required, time is actually saved, because only
    > two stars have to be located, the course setting of the sextant changed
    > once, and the tables entered for two stars only. It is also easier to
    > inaccurate computation or observation as shown in Fig. 27".
    > Figure 27 shows two parallel LOP's spaced very closely and two parallel
    > at right angles to the former, spaced far apart. The figure beside it
    > a classic "cocked hat". The caption to the figure reads: "Comparison of a
    > 2-star and a 3-star fix. In the case of the 3-star fix, it is not obvious
    > which sight may be in error, while in the case of the 2-star fix it is
    > immediately apparent which star should be re-sighted or sight computations
    > checked".
    > While it is true that I have quoted from a book pertaining to Air
    > Navigation, I have used this technique, successfully both on land and at
    > sea.
    > As for MPPs, I cannot argue with George and Herbert about the efficacy of
    > performing the necessary statistical computations to arrive at this
    > I have read only a little on MPPs but I certainly agree that it is a very
    > real and very valid concept. Nevertheless, for purposes of practical
    > navigation, who is really going to perform this exercise while at sea? In
    > reality, navigators will simply take the centre of the cocked hat or the
    > intersection of two lines of position.
    > I believe that the two times two star technique described by Greenaway is
    > reasonable compromise.
    > Robert
    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: "Joel Jacobs" 
    > To: 
    > Sent: Saturday, April 03, 2004 7:58 AM
    > Subject: Re: The cocked hat, again. Was: "100 Problems in Celestial
    > Navigation"
    > > In an off group exchange with Herbert Prinz, to which I have added a few
    > > words to for clarity, I said this:
    > >
    > > "It is really a matter of personal judgment. The navigator's selection
    > an
    > > MPP will vary as to how reliable or accurate the navigator thinks the
    > sights
    > > were based in the conditions he encountered when taking the sights. A
    > > mathematical solution may not be appropriate."
    > >
    > > I submit that this is what George is correctly introducing.
    > >
    > > Let me add this thought. When I took the USCG Celestial Exam, year ago,
    > one
    > > of the questions had a series of sights that when plotted, had one
    > > LOP distant from the others. If  you answered the question including
    > > sight in your calculations, even by averaging, you were wrong. If you
    > > rejected it as a bad sight, you were right. As a matter of pride, I got
    > > 100%. Of course I was a lot younger and sharper.
    > >
    > > Joel Jacobs
    > >
    > >

    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