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Blog #2 Constellations and Navigation

February 12, 2012

Today we  humans have tons of ways to find our location on the earth. Our maps are more detailed and complete as ever before in our history, there are few places left in the world far from a human civilization and to top it all off we now have GPS to pinpoint our location via satellite. The ancient and preindustrial sailors however had to rely completely on the sun and the stars for a sense of direction and location. Using constellations, of course are not as accurate as GPS or modern maps, but for the most part sailors were able to get by. In the northeren hemisphere sailors were able to use the little dipper and polaris to have a consant northern heading, sailors in the southern hemisphere were not so lucky. During the daytime everyone was able to enjoy the sun as a sense of direction from east to west. Even very ancient civilizations like the babylonians, egyptians and greeks were able to track constellations and use them for navigation even as they move across the sky. The greeks had many constellations named after their gods and heroes, but the babylonians and egyptians actually used the constellations, the planets and all of their locations and alignments in the religions and thought the alignments meant certain things. I think it is important to embrace our navigating ancestors skills in using the night sky to know where we are so that we never become soley independent on machines.

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One Comment
  1. I don’t think I wound have survived back then. I need my GPS!

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