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Columbus and Celestial Navigation
"In celestial navigation, the navigator observes celestial bodies (Sun, Moon and stars) to measure his latitude. (In Columbus's day, it was usually impossible to measure your longitude.) Even in ancient times, it was fairly easy to find your latitude by looking at the Sun and stars, as long as you weren't too concerned about accuracy. Each star has a celestial latitude, or declination. If you know the declination of a star that is directly overhead, that's the same as your latitude on earth. Even if a star isn't directly overhead, if you can measure the angle between the star and the overhead point (called the zenith), you can still determine your latitude that way -- provided you measure the star at the time of night that it is highest in the sky."
(Submitted by Noel Mon Jul 5, 2004 )
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