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Coordinates

OF COORDINATES

Structure

7.1 Introduction

Objectives

7.3 The Apparent Daily Path of all Bodies

7.4 Relationship between Azimuth, Quadrantal Bearings and 360o Notation

Bearing

7.5 Rising and Setting of Bodies

7.6 The PZX Triangle

7.7 Drawing Figures on the Plane of the Rational Horizon

7.8 Summary

7.9 Key Words

7.10 Answers to SAQs

7.1 INTRODUCTION

On a clear night while gazing the stars you notice a pattern of stars. How will you convey

the position of the pattern to your friend in your neighbourhood. Most likely you will

convey the position by approximate altitude and direction.

In celestial navigation the similar system of coordinates is used to define the position of

an astronomical body on the celestial sphere. It is literally based on the observer's view of

the sky. The observer uses coordinates altitude and azimuth to pin-point the position of

an astronomical body. This system of coordinate is called the horizon system of

coordinates. In this unit, we shall define the coordinates and the reference planes, great

circles used for measuring the coordinates.

Objectives

After studying this unit, you should be able to

• define rational horizon, zenith, nadir, vertical circle, prime vertical circle,

• define elevated pole and depressed pole,

• prove that the altitude of the elevated pole is equal to the observer’s latitude,

• define the observer’s upper and lower celestial meridian,

• identify the apparent daily path of all bodies,

• define true altitude, azimuth, and true zenith distance,

• explain the relationship between azimuth, quadrantal bearings and 360º

notation bearing,

• recognise rising and setting points and defines amplitude,

• recognise the parts of the PZX triangle, and

• draw figures on the plane of the rational horizon.

39

Celestial Navigation

7.2 DEFINITIONS

The Horizon System

The system is based on the position of the observer and the coordinates are

measured with reference to his meridian and plane.

Zenith

It is a point vertically above the observer or a line joining from the center of the

Earth through the observer to the celestial sphere is called the observer’s Zenith.

Point Z in Figure 7.1.

Nadir

It is a point vertically below him or a point vertically opposite of Zenith on the

celestial sphere.

Rational Horizon (NES)

Rational horizon is a great circle on the celestial sphere the pole of which is the

Observer’s zenith or the great circle every point on which is 90 from the observer’s

zenith. The celestial horizon is always perpendicular to the navigator.

Vertical Circle

It is a great circle on the celestial sphere passing through the observer’s zenith and

Nadir.

Zenith

Error!

Rational NCP

Horizon O ♀

S N

E

SCP

Nadir

Figure 7.1

It is the vertical circle passing through East West points of observer’s rational

horizon. This great circle is reference used for defining amplitude of a body.

Principal Vertical Circle (NZS)

It is the vertical circle passing through North South points of observer’s rational

horizon. This great circle is reference used for defining azimuth of a body.

40

Elevated and Depressed Pole Daily Motion and

Horizon System of

In the rational horizon system the observer is always perpendicular to the rational Coordinates

horizon and as the observer moves North or south along the meridian the celestial

sphere visible to him changes. When the observer is at the Equator his zenith is on

the equinoctial and the North and south celestial poles are on his rational horizon.

Z/Q

Error!

SCP/S N / NCP

As the observer moves North from the Equator, the north celestial poles get

elevated above his rational horizon equal to the Latitude and the south celestial

pole gets depressed below his rational horizon. In such condition the North

Celestial Pole (NCP) is referred to as the Elevated Pole and the South Celestial

Pole (SCP) as the Depressed Pole.

Z

Q Error!

P (NCP)

O Elevation

of Pole

SCP/S N

Depression

of Pole

SCP

To prove Elevation of the pole is equal to the Latitude of the observer :

In Figure 7.3

Arc NZ = 90º (Z is observer’s Zenith and N is a point on his rational horizon)

Arc NP + Arc PZ = 90º . . . (7.1)

Arc PQ = 90º (P is celestial pole and Q is a point on the equinoctial)

Arc PZ + Arc ZQ = 90º . . . (7.2)

Equating Eqs. (7.1) and (7.2)

Arc NZ + Arc PZ = Arc PZ+ Arc ZQ

Arc NZ (Elevation of the Celestial Pole) = Arc ZQ (Latitude of the Observer)

∴ Elevation of the Celestial Pole = Latitude of the Observer

41

Celestial Navigation Z

Q

P (NCP)

O Elevation

of Pole

SCP/S N

Depression

of Pole

SCP

When the observer moves south the south celestial pole gets elevated and north

celestial pole is depressed below his rational horizon.

Z

Q

SCP

Elevation of

Pole

S N

Depression

of Pole

P (NCP)

RATIONAL HORIZON

The celestial bodies visible to the observer at any given time can be also represented on

the plane of the observer’s rational horizon. The depiction on the plane of Rational

horizon can be visualised as projection of the bodies on the rational horizon plane from a

light source at infinity. The dashed parallel arrows are showing the projection of different

points in Figure 7.6.

Q Z

P (NCP)

SCP

Plane of Observer’s

Rational Horizon

Figure 7.6

42

Daily Motion and

Horizon System of

N Coordinates

A

d d’

X

W E

Z

Q U

Figure 7.7

In Figure 7.7 NESW, the outer circle represents the observer’s rational horizon. Z is the

observer’s zenith, NPZQS the principal vertical, WZE, the observer’s prime vertical,

PZS, the observer’s celestial meridian, WQE represents the Equinoctial, dd′ the

declination circle of the body and P the elevated celestial pole.

To draw the diagram to scale it would be convenient to draw the circle of radius of

9 units to represent 90°, between Z and the rational horizon. Q is marked to the South or

North of the zenith, according to the observer’s latitude (If latitude is North Q is

depressed southward and if latitude is south Q being north), ZQ is measured equal to the

latitude. NP is equal to ZQ and is marked from north point of the rational horizon if

latitude is north and from south if latitude is south. The declination circle is marked north

or south of equinoctial as per declination. The points d and d’ are marked by angle at the

zenith equal to amplitude. Declination circle can be also marked by measuring QX on the

meridian equal to declination northward or southward according to name of the

declination. In above figure UX represents the North declination of the body X. In this

diagram all heavenly bodies above the rational horizon can be shown. PXU is drawn with

free hand curved towards the rational horizon passing thru x and represents the celestial

meridian of the observer. ZXA represents the vertical circle passing thru the body and AX

is the true altitude of the body where as ZX is the zenith distance.

PX represents the distance of the body from the elevated pole normally referred to as the

polar distance of the body. PZ equals to (90°-lat), is referred to as the co-latitude.

The Earth rotates on its axis from west to east, due which all heavenly bodies appear to

describe an east to west motion around the Earth each day. Thus a heavenly body appears

to rise on the eastern horizon, move westwards, its altitude increasing till the body is on

the observer’s meridian. Then the body is said to culminate or transit the meridian. After

culmination, it continues to move westwards decreasing in altitude till it sets over the

western horizon.

For an observer at the equator all bodies will be above his horizon for about 12 hrs and

below his horizon for same duration.

For an observer in north latitude the heavenly bodies whose declination is north will be

above his horizon for more than 12 hrs and below his horizon for less than 12 hrs. The

bodies whose declination is south will be above his horizon for less than 12 hrs. And for

a stationary observer, the interval between rising and culmination of a body will be equal

to the interval between its culmination and setting, provided its declination remains

43

Celestial Navigation unchanged. Also under the same circumstances, its amplitude at rising will be equal to

that at setting.

Z, Q

S, SCP N, NCP

Z

Error! Q

P (NCP)

S N

SCP

For an observer at the north pole the heavenly bodies whose declination is north will

remain above his horizon for 24 hrs and will not rise and set. The altitude of these bodies

will remain same all the time. Heavenly bodies with southerly declination will not be

visible.

Z, NCP

Error!

S, Q N

44

Daily Motion and

7.5 RISING AND SETTING OF BODIES Horizon System of

Coordinates

We have seen above that the heavenly bodies rise and set due to rotation of the earth. The

visible sun rise or moon rise occurs when the upper limb is visible.

Theoretical sunrise and sunset occurs when the True Sun’s centre is on the observer’s

rational horizon. The true altitude of the Sun is then 0° and its true zenith distance 90°.

The times of theoretical sunrise or sunset, can be obtained by solving the PZX triangle in

which ZX is 90°.

Due to refraction the sun appears higher than its actual altitude due to which the

theoretical sunrise is after visible sunrise.

In the nautical almanac the times of visible sunrise and sunset for various latitudes is

listed. Interpolation is necessary for latitude of the ship. Though the times given are

strictly Greenwich, Mean time of the occurrences on the Greenwich meridian for the

middle day, they may be taken as the LMT of the occurrence in any longitude for any of

the three days on the page without appreciable error, particularly in low latitudes.

To find accurate time of rising and setting, interpolation for longitude and for the day

(other than for the middle day on the page) would also be required.

The calculations of rising and setting times are covered in Unit 9.

Moonrise and Moonset

At visible moonrise and moonset, the true altitude of the Moon is approximately

0°07′ for an observer at sea level allowing 34′ for refraction, 16′ for semi-diameter

and 57′ for parallax (− 34′ − 16′ + 57′ = 07′). Thus in the case of the Moon,

visible and theoretical rising /setting occur at about the same time.

On the right hand day pages of the nautical almanac LMT of moonrise and

moonset on the Greenwich meridian is tabulated for each day, for various latitudes.

The times of these phenomenon for the first day on the following page is also

tabulated to help in interpolation.

Due to large (about 50 minutes) daily retardation of moonrise and moonset a

correction for the observer’s longitude has also to be applied to the tabulated times

to obtain LMT moonrise or moonset at any position, in addition to interpolation

for latitude.

To find precise times of moonrise or moonset, first interpolate for latitude for the

day in question and also for the preceding day, if in East longitude, and for the

following day if in west longitude. The difference between the two times so

obtained multiplied by the observer’s longitude and divided by 360°, gives the

longitude correction.

Generally the longitude correction is to be subtracted for East longitudes and

added for West longitudes. This rule may not hold well particularly in high

latitudes and near spring and autumnal equinoxes, when moonrise and moonset

times on succeeding days may become earlier.

The calculations for rising and setting for moon rise will be covered in Unit 9.

The time of theoretical rising and setting of bodies may be calculated using

nautical almanac and by solving quadrantal spherical triangle.

The celestial triangle or PZX triangle is formed by the coordinates used in the

geographical coordinate system, celestial coordinate system and the horizon coordinate

system. Let us revise the different coordinate systems.

Systems Geographical Equinoctial Horizon 45

Celestial Navigation (Terrestrial)

Horizontal Reference Equator Equinoctial Rational Horizon

Horizontal Grid Parallels of Parallels of altitude or

Parallels of Latitude declination or circles of equal

Declination circles altitude

Vertical Reference Celestial Meridian

passing thru Principle/Prime

Prime meridian

Greenwich, Aries, vertical circle

Observer

Vertical Grid Hour circles or

Meridians Vertical circles

Celestial meridians

Horizontal Coordinate Azimuth, Azimuth

Longitude GHA, SHA, LHA

angle or Amplitude

Vertical Coordinate Latitude Declination True Altitude

Poles Earth’s Poles, N/S N/S Celestial poles Zenith and Nadir

PZX Sides Co-Latitude, PZ Polar distance, PX Zenith distance, ZX

The Celestial triangle PZX is a spherical triangle on the celestial sphere.The vertices of

the celestial triangle are the elevated pole (P), observer’s Zenith (Z), the celestial body

(X). The sides of the triangle are great circle sides and so the triangle is a spherical

triangle PZX on the celestial sphere. Its side are PZ (co-latitude, 90º-latitude), ZX (Zenith

Distance, 90-True Altitude), PX (Polar distance, 90 ± declination). The angles of the

celestial triangle are P (Hour angle, Z (Azimuth angle), X (Parallatic angle).

Most celestial navigation calculations involve the solution of the spherical triangle PZX.

The PZX triangle is used in the following :

(i) To find true azimuth to find compass error.

(ii) To find longitude where the DR Lat. cuts the PL and direction of the PL.

(iii) To identify an unknown star.

(iv) To compute altitude of the celestial body.

(v) To find initial course, final course and great circle distance when sailing

along a great circle track.

(vi) Rising and setting of celestial bodies.

(vii) Duration of day light.

Z

Q

X P

S GP N

SCP

Figure 7.11

46

Daily Motion and

Horizon System of

Coordinates

The celestial triangle can also be shown on the plane of the observer’s rational horizon.

N

P

Polar Distance, 90 + Decl.

Co-Latitude, 90 − Lat

W Z E

Q

M

D’ D

X

S

Zenith Distance, 90 − T. Alt.

PZ = Co Latitude = 90 – Latitude

PX = 90 – Declination

(When Lat. and Declination of same name)

PX = 90 + Declination

(Lat. and Declination of opposite name)

ZX = Zenith distance = 90 – T. Altitude

∠ P = EHA (when body East of meridian)

∠ P = LHA (when body West of meridian)

∠ Z = Azimuth Angle

∠ X = Parallatic Angle

NP = Elevation of the pole = Latitude

QZ = Latitude of the observer

MX = Declination of the body

AX = True Altitude

QZ = Latitude of the observer

NESW = Observer’s Rational Horizon.

NOTATION BEARING

Azimuth is defined as the angle at the zenith or arc of rational horizon contained

between the principal vertical and vertical circle passing through the body.

47

Celestial Navigation Quadrantal Azimuth may be defined as the shortest angle subtended at the observer’s

zenith between the North or South principal vertical to the vertical circle passing thru the

body measured eastward or westward. This is the quadrantal azimuth and is measured

East or West of the North or South principal vertical. The value of the quadrantal

Azimuth is less than 90º and the azimuth is prefixed “N” or “S” depending on whether

the body is bearing northerly or southerly from the observer and in calculations the name

of the “c” correction is given. The azimuth is suffixed “E” depending on whether the

body is east of the observer’s meridian or rising and its suffixed “W” depending on

whether the body is west of the observer’s meridian or setting.

In the Figure 7.13, Azimuth S30º W, indicated by lined angle, means that the body is 30º

west of south principal vertical.

True Azimuth or 360º Notation bearing may be defined as the angle subtended at the

observer contained between the True North and the vertical circle passing thru the body

measured clockwise. Its value varies from 000º to 360º.

In Figure 7.13, it has been indicated by an arrow and its value is 210º.

Azimuth Angle is defined as the angle Z of the spherical triangle PZX. The value of the

Azimuth angle is less than 180º. In Figure 7.13, it is the dot shaded angle. Its value is

150º.

N

P

Error!

W E

D’ D

S

Figure 7.13

SAQ 1

(a) Which pole is elevated and by how much if the observer is in Latitude

22º S?

(b) Show the following on plane of the observer’s (in Latitude 15º S) rational

horizon

(i) A body, declination 10º S on the observer’s meridian

(ii) A body, of declination 30 º N and theoretically rising

(iii) Sun, declination zero degrees and setting

(iv) A star declination S 29º and Azimuth S20ºE

(c) What is the true bearing of the star in question above?

(d) Quadrantal bearing of a star is N25ºW for an observer in Northern

Hemisphere. Find the True bearing of star and the azimuth angle.

48

(e) An observer in 34º 31′S latitude observed true altitude of star Spica Daily Motion and

Horizon System of

(Declination 11º 07’S) as 45º 18′. Find the sides of the celestial triangle so Coordinates

formed.

(f) Amplitude of a body is E 10º N, what is its true bearing.

7.8 SUMMARY

The observer identifies the position of the body in the sky by azimuth and altitude of the

body with reference to his meridian and rational horizon. These two coordinates

eventually give him the direction of his position line and radius of position circle. The

two coordinates are observer specific and will vary with change in position. In the

horizon system the observer’s zenith is pole.

The navigator combines the geographical, equinoctial and horizon system to form the

navigation triangle PZX. This triangle is solved in celestial navigation to obtain position

lines, that are combined to get a fix.

Zenith : It is a point vertically above the observer.

Nadir : It is a point vertically below the observer.

Rational Horizon : Rational horizon is a great circle on the celestial

sphere every point on which is 90 from observer’s

zenith.

Vertical Circle : It is a great circle on the celestial sphere passing

through the observer’s zenith and Nadir.

Prime Vertical Circle : It is the vertical circle passing through East west

points of observer’s rational horizon.

Principal Vertical Circle : It is the vertical circle passing through North

South points of observer’s rational horizon.

Circles of Equal Altitude : Circles of equal altitude are small circles on the

celestial sphere parallel to the plane of rational

horizon.

True Altitude : It is the arc of vertical circle passing through the

body contained between the rational horizon and

the centre of the body.

True Zenith Distance : It is the arc of vertical circle passing through the

body contained between the observer’s zenith and

the centre of the body.

Azimuth : It is the angle at the observer’s zenith or arc of the

observer’s rational horizon contained between the

principal vertical and the vertical circle passing

thru the body. It is measured east or west of the

observers meridian from North or South.

Amplitude : It is the angle at the observer’s zenith or arc of the

observer’s rational horizon contained between the

prime vertical and the vertical circle passing

through the body when the body is theoretically

rising or setting.

49

Celestial Navigation

7.10 ANSWERS TO SAQs

SAQ 1

(a) South Pole and by 22º

(b) Diagram to be drawn

(c) 160º

(d) True bearing 335º, Azimuth angle 25º

(e) PZ = 55º 29′, PX = 78º 53′, ZX = 44º 42′

(f) 080º.

50

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