Liberal Arts Blog — Celestial Navigation — Three Things to Know

Liberal Arts Blog — Wednesday is the Joy of Science, Engineering, and Technology Day

Today’s Topic — Celestial Navigation — Three Things to Know

The theme of the week is my mother who passed last Saturday. Her favorite thing was the ocean. Her father was a Norwegian sea captain and my sense was there is nowhere she would rather be than on a ship with him and his Scottish terrier. Unfortunately, I was never able to meet Captain Jens Cappellen as he died in Casablanca in 1943 while serving as the captain of a Liberty Ship during World War Two. Had he lived I am sure he would have helped me better understand the principles of celestial navigation. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

POLARIS IS THE STAR AT THE END OF THE HANDLE OF THE LITTLE DIPPER

1. It is the brightest star in the constellation.

2. Because Polaris lies nearly in a direct line with the Earth’s rotational axis “above” the North Pole — the north celestial pole — Polaris stands almost motionless in the sky, and all the stars of the northern sky appear to rotate around it. Therefore, it makes an excellent fixed point from which to draw measurements for celestial navigation.”

3. “The elevation of the star above the horizon gives the approximate latitude of the observer.”

NB: To find Polaris, first find the Big Dipper. “The two stars on the end of the Dipper’s “cup” point the way to Polaris.”

ORION’S SWORD POINTS SOUTH WHEN IT IS NEAR VERTICAL

1. The sword hangs down from the belt of three stars (Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka).

2. The sword consists of three stars plus the Orion Nebula are not really three stars. The central one is a nebula which is “the closest region of massive star formation to earth.

3. You might have noticed that my simplified seven star model of the Orion constellation omits the sword. Oh, well. Trade-offs are unavoidable.

IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE USE THE SOUTHERN CROSS TO FIND SOUTH

1. Draw two lines — one perpendicular to the line connecting the two pointer stars, the other continuing the longitudinal axis of the southern cross.

2. The point of intersection is the south celestial pole.

3. The Southern Cross is on the flags of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Samoa.

A LINK TO THE LAST FOUR YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED BY THEME:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive

ATTACHMENT BELOWS -

#1 A graphic guide to justice (9 metaphors on one page).

#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20

YOUR TURN

Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to science, engineering, or technology. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in your life related to science and engineering.

This is your chance to make someone else’s day. Or to cement in your mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.

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Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.

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John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.