Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Learn to navigate by the night sky

When we went on our Disney Cruise, I found myself standing on our veranda staring up at the stars. It's amazing to think of a time when that was all the navigation there was. I'd forgotten almost everything except Orion's belt and the Big Dipper. I could remember that the North Star (Polaris) was near the Big Dipper and that it somehow pointed to it, but that was it. Still it was enough that I was a little bewildered on the first night of the cruise. Early in the evening I could guess that we were headed South, away from the Big Dipper. But late in the evening, it was gone (on the other side of the ship). It wasn't too long afterwards that they finally made the announcement that we had turned around and were headed back to port for a medical emergency.

Ever since the cruise, I've been trying to learn to recognize stars and constellations a little better.

A cool free printable star chart with more than you'll ever be able to recognize:
http://www.skymaps.com/downloads.html

Excellent interactive training to recognize a few key constellations and figure out North:
http://www.quietbay.net/Science/astronomy/nightsky/
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