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11/22/2012 – Ephemeris – Celestial navigation in the days of the Pilgrims

November 22, 2012 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 22nd.  The sun will rise at 7:48.  It’ll be up for 9 hours and 19 minutes, setting at 5:08.   The moon, 2 days past first quarter, will set at 2:58 tomorrow morning.

Back in the days of the Pilgrims navigation was much less certain than it is today.  At the mercy of the winds and weather, sailing took a lot of courage.  Celestial navigation took the form of measuring the altitude of the pole star Polaris at night and the sun at noon.  That and tossing a log overboard attached to a rope with knots at regular interval to gauge their speed and progress.  That’s where we get the term knots as a measure of speed for nautical and aviation use.  Today we have GPS to tell us where we are.  However that is based on the position of not stars, but quasars, bright nuclei of distant galaxies, whose motions are currently too small to measure.  Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.

Addendum

 

nasa-map_GPS Quasars

All sky map of quasar locations used as the celestial markers for the GPS system. Chart by David Bobolz, US Naval Observatory.

The chart above is from an article in the Telegraph.