Celestial Navigation: How Our Ancestors Used to Travel

celestial sphere
Earth’s Celestial Sphere

Before the time of GPS, and all the modern forms of navigation we use today, people used to travel with the stars. Through the use of angular measurements, the sun, moon, planets, and stars could be used to find a position on earth. By looking at the angles between these celestial bodies the horizon, and your current location, you can find your position on the earth. This information allows you to pinpoint where you are and plot a course for where you want to go. Celestial navigation was a way to travel from point A to point B that relied strictly on what you were able to see and your environment around you. As a result, it is still a practice used today by groups such as the navy. It is a reliable means of navigation that does not depend on modern technology, such as electricity. Although, we have forms of navigation that are much more accurate, celestial navigation can be depended on when you have nothing else available. It is good technique to learn because, as the aphorism goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The stars are not going anywhere anytime soon, so we might as well use them to our benefit.

One thought on “Celestial Navigation: How Our Ancestors Used to Travel

  1. Once you remember he was navigating this way it’s a little easier to understand how Columbus thought he was in India. Still, do you know how easy it is to figure out exactly where you are on earth with only hand tools and line of sight calculations? I can’t imagine folks really understanding more about their position on earth than which direction they’re heading based on the stars…

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