Category: Navigation

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Celestial Navigation - Compass Checking

CompassEven in this age of electronic wizardry, your steering compass is still a vital piece of equipment. We use it steer a compass course when we are far from land, or just to glance at to make sure the autopilot is keeping us on track.

Normally we employ the skills of a compass adjuster to set up our compass and to create a ‘Deviation Card’. We can also do it ourselves when we are close to land and have many visual references. It is a relatively easy task to take transits and compare these to readings on our compass.

However, once at sea, we are devoid of lighthouses, headlands and useful transits. We are forced to look to the skies and use the celestial bodies to check our compass.

The 2 main methods employed are to compare our steering compass against either;

  •  Azimuth (bearing) of a celestial body (usually the Sun)
  •  Amplitude (bearing of the Sun at Sunrise / Sunset) 

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