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FLIGHT.

U'NE 9,

I938.

ONOM

NAVlGA

A

Simple

Explanation

of the Principles : The Greenwich Hour Angle

Use of

the u Air

Almanac."

Part

I

: Making

By Sqn. Ldr. E. H. D. SPENCE, R.A.F.O.-

T HERE seems to be a general impression amongst

airmen that astronomical navigation is a very

difficult matter, and in particular that an intimate

knowledge of spherical trigonometry is required. If,

men of all nationalities make daily use of it, would this not

tend to prove that

it cannot

be so very difficult

after all,

bearing in mind the old Naval saying that " the fool of

of the

solar system

(such

as

the

sun, moon, and planets) can

sphere by Dec, and

stars, when seen

R.A.

The

from the

also be " fixed

Dec. and

"

in the celestial

R.A. of bodies other than

earth,

which

will, however,

is

well

inside

appear

to alter daily

as the solar system,

the celestial

" fixed "

stars.

sphere, revolves against the

background of the

The question is, how do we find these elusive imaginary spots ?

Look at Pig.

i.

however, one pauses to consider that thousands of sea-going

the family

goes to

sea " ?

There is also another ancient

CELESTIAL POLE

• "~i? r -V"" ".TJ. ~"

'

-

:; "

saying which runs, " What one fool can do, another can,"

So let us take heart, and try to understand this mysterious subject.

What,

in the

first

place, are we trying to do ?

We are trying

to find some means of ascertaining our position when out of sight

of land,

either

when flying over the

sea or when flying above

the clouds. If by some means we were able to find out the

distance

(in any convenient

unit) and

the bearing

of

a

spot

whose position we know, we could then—if the chart or map

were big enough—lay

spot.

It

off

the bearing and

the distance to

is a very similar proposition

to a radio bearing,

this

with

Fig.

1.

the addition of the element of distance.

Simple

Principles

In

astronomical

navigation

use

is

made

of

a

number of

imaginary spots on the earth's surface, the bearing and distance of which are found as will be explained later. The position of

these imaginary spots are tabulated in the Air Almanac at short intervals ot time ; they are the points where a line joining a celestial body (such as the sun, planets, stars or moon) to the

centre of the earth cuts the latter's surface.

The points on the

The earth's equator

from

C,

the

centre of

q and p.

and

pole, Q and

on

P, have been to the celestial

projected

sphere at

the earth,

Conversely, let us project a fixed star x on the celestial

earth's surface are known as the sub-solar, sub-planetary, sub-stellar and sub-lunar points, or, generally, as the Geographical

sphere, with

Declination

at

cut the earth's surface

equal

X.

to

qx,

on

to the earth.

It

will

X is the sub-stellar

spot, or G.P

Position (G.P.) of the celestial body. The G.P.s will be con-

stantly altering as the earth revolves on its axis : their progress

of the star. The latitude on the earth of the G.P. will be the

is, however, followed in the

Air AI manor.

A tittle explanation

same as the declination of the star.

of the theory on which we will work is now necessary

Half

the deed

is now done :

we now want

to

fix

the

spot X

Imagine the heavens to be a colossal bowl which is an enormous

on the earth for longitude

distance away ;

also that

we can

project the earth's equator

This

is

a

little more difficult

(but not

much), owing to the

and poles, from its centre, on to the inside of this celestial sphere. The projections are known as the celestial poles and the celestial

rotation of the earth on its axis inside the celestial sphere.

Let us now project

the Meridian of Greenwich,

G,

on

to the

equator The stars are so far away that they appear always to remain in the same place in the celestial sphere, and their

celestial sphere at g. At this moment the longitude of X is

GPQ, west of Greenwich, and

the celestial sphere.

and

the

celestial

Greenwich

sphere such

i.e.,

the

z

As the

sphere

will

Meridian

as

l

g ,

g ,

longitude of

is the

earth

same

as the

angle gpq

o n

revolves towards the west

still,

the

positions

projection

on

the

of

the

celestial

stands

take up

and

etc. ;

X

will

the angle gpq will increase:

altering

on

the

be continually

positions in it can be fixed by what corresponds to latitude and longitude on the earth ; celestial latitude is called Declina- tion (Dec), and celestial longitude (which is not measured from the projection of the Greenwich Meridian but from a fixed

point on the celestial equator) is called Right Ascension (R.A.).

We need not bother about

R.A. at

this stage

earth.

Similarly, other bodies which are closer to us and form part

The

longitude (angle

between

the

Meridians of Greenwich