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Celestial Navigation – My Azimuth

When I was young I read constantly about adventure. I made models of airplanes and boats. I loved Nevil Shute and admired Sir Francis Chichester. My goal was to put my amateur/short wave radio in a Land Rover and see the world.

I got my first break when I worked as a summer engineering student on a mining exploration project in the Coppermine area of the Canadian North West Territories. I used a compass and magnetometer, discovering all the strange magnetic anomalies that can happen in the far north.

Next stop was an engineering summer job in Holland. Together with a Canadian friend we cycled all through the countryside during the two week summer holiday. This was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. After graduation nothing could hold me back and off I went to Africa. After Africa, I worked on microwave telecom systems all over Canada, finally being able to afford my own Land Rover (second hand!).

Another travel itch ensued and off to South East Asia. Here I was faced with a big problem for telecom site location. We needed a huge survey team because our maps did not have the scale required to accurately locate our sites. I kept wondering if there was a better way to determine position and it suddenly occurred to me that Celestial Navigation could be used on land just as it could on sea. I went to Singapore and bought a sextant. This was in the 1980s before GPS became available.

When I returned to Canada, I took all the CP&SS courses available on the subject. Many years went by and I was working on an EBook on HF radio and I discovered that all the math that I was using to describe HF propagation was almost identical to the relations used in CelNav. So I decided to start an EBook from scratch developing the various position algorithms for site location using the same Open Source program ScicosLab that I used for my HF Ebook.

Of all the various measurements I took, I must admit that doing a Lunar was the most exciting. I could imagine Joshua Slocum standing on the Spray doing the same thing!

Download “Celestial Navigation Basics & Equipment”

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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.