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    Re: from a watcher
    From: Robert Eno
    Date: 2002 Oct 18, 10:49 +0100

    I agree with you 100% on this Dan. Knowing this formula and how to
    manipulate and transform it, is of the utmost importance. In fact, I will
    take it a step further by suggesting that everyone should, once in a
    while, sit down and draw a spherical triangle with all of the points and
    sides labeled and then derive the navigation formula from the basic
    spherical trig formula. Furthermore, one should commit to memory, the
    signs (plus or minus) of the trigonometric functions (sin, cos, tan) in
    each of the quadrants.
    
    I do this every once in a while and my wife -- an engineer no less --
    accuses me of being a geek! No respect anymore.
    
    I am no mathematical whiz kid so I find it necessary to go through this
    tedious, though necessary exercise just to keep sharp. I also have a neat
    little book (about the same size as HO 211) with the basic trig and log
    functions. Finally, by committing the basics to memory, I can use my
    calculator guilt-free!
    
    Cheers,
    
    Robert
    
    >No, it is the spherical law of cosines.  It is the most fundamental
    >formula in celestial navigation.  One can use it to determine
    >great circle distances and courses, do sight reduction, measure the
    >length of twilight, and many other useful things.  The first chapter
    >of W. M. Smart's classic "Textbook on Spherical Astronomy" is all
    >about this formula and how it is derived and used.  If you understand
    >this formula and how to use it, you can do much of sight reduction
    >in your sleep.  It is not a difficult formula and it is worthy of
    >everyone's study.
    >
    >Gee, that sounds rather pedantic, but it really is handy in any case.
    >
    >Dan
    
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