There are many different ways to pinpoint your position when at sea. One of the most efficient ways is by using lines of latitude and longitude. Latitude lines run east to west and longitude lines run north to south. One way to remember this is by thinking "lat.", fat, or that lines of latitude are "laddered up". Longitude lines run the long way. Latitude lines start at 0 degrees and so do longitude lines. The equator is the 0 degree mark for latitude and the prime meridian is the mark for longitude. There are numbers following 0. Between each degree there are 60 minutes. If the numbers go up, they are north latitude, if they go down then they are south latitude. It's the same for longitude except if the numbers go left they are west longitude and if they go right they are east longitude. For example, about 34 degrees N and 118 degrees W is Los Angeles.
As an apprentice navigator you might be navigating 33.20 S. by 79.01 W, where would you be?
When Artemis, the cabin dog, is not exercising her sea legs, she
is happy at home at
36.30 N. and 94.10 E. Can you find this location?
The north star is easy to find on a clear night. Just face the northern half of sky and locate the Big Dipper. The Big Dipper is a group of stars that look like the side view of a pan with a handle. The Big Dipper moves in a circle around the North Star. In the winter, the handle of the dipper will be pointing downward. In the spring, the dipper will be upside down. In the summer, the dipper will be pointing up. In the autumn, the dipper will be right side up. All of these different positions are caused by the rotation of the Earth.
On a clear night notice the two clear bright stars in the front
of the dipper. These are the two stars farthest from the handle. They point
to the North Star, these stars are called the pointer stars. Guess the
distance between these two stars. Count five of these stars in a imaginary
line from the end of the Big Dipper, and you should see the North Star.
The North Star is also the end star in the handle of the Little Dipper.
The north star helped sailors navigate their latitude.
Return to Sailor's School
Return to Home Page