Solar Astronavigation in High Latitudes

by Gerald W. Johnson, (M.ASCE), Assistant Professor; Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN,
James L. Clapp, (M.ASCE), Associate Professor of Civil Engineering; University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI,

Serial Information: Journal of the Surveying and Mapping Division, 1971, Vol. 97, Issue 1, Pg. 27-38

Document Type: Journal Paper


Navigator–surveyors with traversing expeditions in the Arctic or Antarctic have two basic methods of astronavigation available to them: zenith angle observations or azimuth angle observations. A major constraint applicable to either method is the fact that the sum may be the only consistently detectable target during the 24-hr long polar day. An analytical analysis is used to compare the two methods for similar observing configurations and comparable viewing errors, and the conclusion is made that, analytically, the zenith method is superior for polar astronavigation. To aid the polar navigator when he must determine positions to a given precision, a means of ascertaining an observing configuration which will yield the desired geometric results is suggested. Also included is a method for determining the observation error which reflects, for a given individual, actual conditions encountered in polar observations.

Subject Headings: Space exploration | Azimuth | Detection methods | Errors (statistics) | Geometrics | Arctic

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