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K12 LibreTexts

11.1: Navigation

  • Page ID
    4636
  • I must go down to the sea again

    To the lonely sea and sky

    And all I ask is a tall ship

    And a star to steer her by

    Sea Fever by John Masefield

    How does a captain determine a ship's position in mid-ocean? In our space age, this is easily done, by using the GPS system of satellites--the Global Positioning System (http://www.phy6.org/stargaze/Satell5.htm#q150). That network of 24 satellites constantly broadcasts its positions, and small hand-held receivers exist which convert those signals into positions accurate within at least 15 meters or about 50 feet.

    Before the space age, however, it was not as easy. One had to use the Sun and the stars.

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