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Celestial Navigation Basics Land Sea & Air – Course_a

My first exposure to Celestial Navigation was a book I found rummaging around my father’s naval chest in our basement. He had served in the Canadian Navy during World War II and had a collection of navigation books and other manuals. It was fascinating looking through all the gear, although I was too young at the time for it to mean very much.

FIg.1 Admiralty Navigation Manual 1938

The next exposure came during a visit to “The Binnacle”, a small shop on Sherbrooke Street in Montreal which was on my route to McGill. The store specialized in clothing and gear for adventurers and this was exactly what I was looking for. I was fascinated by the star charts in the 1966 edition of Bowditch. My goal upon finishing engineering school was traveling around the world in a Land Rover with my amateur radio.

Fig.2 American Practical Navigator 1966 Star Charts

The first summer engineering job I worked on was a mining exploration magnetic survey in the Coppermine & Great Bear Lake area of Northern Canada. I learned the importance of good maps, orienteering with a compass, and understanding magnetic anomalies. I also appreciated the importance of HF radio communications the only contact with our base camp and supply aircraft.

Fig.3 Coppermine & Great Bear Lake Northern Canada NWT

In the 1980s I worked on a telecom project in South East Asia. We didn’t always have 1:50000 maps which are required to accurately locate microwave sites and do path profiles. So this required a lot of surveying work. This was before the GPS and other satellite navigation systems. I realized that I could use Celestial Navigation with an artificial horizon to locate my position and spherical geometry to calculate great circle distances and bearings between antennas. This really cemented my interest in the subject. Later on when I was working on an EBook about HF telecommunications, the same spherical geometry arose in propagation calculations. I was hooked and decided to produce an EBook on Celestial Navigation which forms the basis for the upcoming course.

Fig.4 South East Asia 1982

During this past summer of 2020 I produced a number of Blog Posts and YouTube videos outlining the basics of Celestial Navigation. I will review/summarize them in the next two posts. I believe Celestial Navigation is still very relevant and the math can be used in many areas such as satellite location, propagation calculations and even future space travel!

Celestial Navigation Basics Land Sea & Air Course next April 7th 2021.

Fig.5 CelNav Course YouTube

References

#1. – “Celestial Navigation Basics – Hs Sextant Altitude”

#2. – “Celestial Navigation Basics – Ha Apparent Altitude”

#3. – “Celestial Navigation Basics – Ho Observed Altitude”

#4. – “Celestial Navigation Basics – Hc Calculated Altitude”

#5. – “Celestial Navigation Basics – Fix

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By Jeremy Clark

Jeremy Clark is a Senior Telecommunications Engineer and Advanced Amateur Radio Operator VE3PKC. He is the author of E-Books on Telecommunications, Navigation & Electronics.