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FLIGHT.

U'NE 9,

I938.

# NAVlGA

### : 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