|The Free Site | vBuddy - social networking for webmasters | Cheap Web Hosting - starting at $5|
The Bushwalker's Guide to the Galaxy Home Page
An Introduction to the Bushwalker's Guide to the Galaxy
Improvised Angle Measuring Techniques
Finding Reference Directions from your Surroundings
by Alan Sheehan B.E.
Most people know little about finding directions from the stars. In fact, most people know little about the stars at all! This wasn't always the case. While ancient man didn't know how far away they were or how hot they were, he knew them and their patterns intimately.
These days people don't give the sky much thought, and we live in places we like to pollute with bright lights and smog, washing the colour and brilliance out of the stars. The average twenty first century citizen of any modernised country is magnitudes more ignorant of the stars than in generations before.
Finding directions from the stars is far more accurate than using the sun or the moon. The stars require no seasonal correction factors like the sun does to accurately determine directions.
The first step to navigating by the stars is to determine a reference direction. We have four methods to choose from:
The North Celestial Pole (NCP) or South Celestial Pole (SCP) can be found by measurement from recognised star patterns. True North or True South is the point on the horizon directly below the respective Celestial Pole. Only a few popular examples of these methods are shown below. The possible options to navigate this way are only limited by familiarity with the sky.
East or West can be found directly from bright stars near the Celestial Equator as they rise and set.
The directions of rise and set of bright stars (away from the Celestial Equator) can be learned and used directly. Unfortunately these directions are affected by latitude. Traditionally this method was very popular before the invention of compasses.
Death before Disorientation!