Position of the Sun at Equinox and Solstice

(1) Summer/Winter Solstice: (21 June/21 December) Two times during the year when the sun has no apparent northward or southward motion.

(2) Vernal/Autumnal Equinox: (20 March/23 September) Two times during the year when the sun crosses the celestial equator and the length of day and night are approximately equal.

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moves in a cycie irum soisuce lu equinox, imougnoui eacn uay, nowever, uie sun appears lu travels in a uniform arc across the sky from sunrise to sunset. Exactly half-way along its daily journey, the sun will be directly south of an observer (or north if the observer is in the Southern Hemisphere). This rule may not apply to observers in the tropics (between 23.5 degrees north and south latitude) or in the polar regions (60 degrees latitude). It is at this point that shadows will appear their shortest. The time at which this occurs is referred to as "local apparent noon."

c. Sun's Bearing. (WSVX.02.07c) With an understanding of the sun's daily movement, as well as its seasonal paths, a technique is derived that will determine the true bearing of the sun at sunrise and sunset. With the aid of a circular navigational chart, we can accurately navigate based on the sun's true bearing:

(1) Determine the sun's maximum amplitude at your operating latitude using the top portion of the chart. MWTC operating latitude is 38 degrees.

(2) Scale the center baseline of the chart where 0 appears as the middle number; write in the maximum amplitude on the horizontal north / south baseline.

(3) Continue to scale the baseline; you should divide the baseline into 6 to 10 tick marks that represent equal divisions of the maximum amplitude.

(4) From today's date along the circumference, draw a straight line down until it intersects the baseline.

(5) The number this line intersects is today's solar amplitude. If the number is left of 0, it is a "north" amplitude; if the number is right of 0, it is a "south" amplitude. Use the formula at the bottom of the chart to determine the sun's bearing at sunrise or sun set.




























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Circular Navigational Chart d. Shadow Stick Construction. This technique will achieve a cardinal direction within 10 degrees of accuracy if done within two hours of local apparent noon. Once again, this technique may be impractical near the polar regions as shadows tend to be very long; similarly, in the tropics shadows are generally very small. Can only be used within 2 hours of local apparent noon.

(1) Get a straight, 3-6 foot stick free of branches and pointed at the ends and 3-5 small markers: i.e., sticks, rocks, or nails.

(2) Place the stick upright in the ground and mark the shadow tip with a marker.

(3) Wait 10-15 minutes and mark shadow tip again with a marker.

(4) Repeat this until all of the markers are used.

(5) The markers will form a West—East line.

(6) Put your left foot on the first marker and your right foot on the last marker, you will then be facing north.

e. Local Apparent Noon. Whenever using any type of shadow casting device to determine direction, "local apparent noon" (or the sun's highest point during the day) must be known. Local apparent noon can be determined by the following methods.

(1) Knowing sunrise and sunset from mission orders, i.e., sunrise 0630 and sunset 1930. Take the total amount of daylight (13 hours), divide by 2 (6 hours 30 minutes), and add to sunrise (0630 plus 6 hours 30 minutes). Based on this example, local apparent noon would be 1300.

(2) Using the string method. The string method is used to find two equidistant marks before and after estimated solar noon. The center point between these two marks represents local apparent noon.

2. POCKET NAVIGATOR. (WSVX.02.07d) The only material required is a small piece of cardboard or other flat-surface material, a watch, a pen or pencil, and a 1 to 2 inch pin or nail.

a. Set this tiny rod upright on your flat piece of material so that the sun will cause it to cast a shadow. Mark the position where the base of the rod sits so it can be returned to the same spot for later readings. Place the navigator flat on level ground. Secure the navigator from wind by placing rocks on it. Write the date and mark the tip of the shadow.

b. As the sun moves the shadow-tip moves. Make repeated shadow-tip markings every 15 minutes. As you make the marks on the tip of the shadow ensure that you write down the time.

c. At the end of the day, connect the shadow-tip markings. The result will normally be a curved line. The arch will be less pronounced closer to the vernal or autumnal equinoxes (March 20 and September 23). If it is not convenient or the tactical situation does not permit to take a full day's shadow-tip readings, your observation can be continued on the following day by orienting the pocket navigator on the ground so that the shadow-tip is aligned with a previously plotted points.

d. The markings made at the sun's highest point during the day, or solar noon, is the north—south line. The direction of north should be indicated with an arrow on the navigator as soon as it is determined. This north-south line is drawn from the base of the rod to the mark made at solar noon. This line is the shortest line that can be drawn from the base of the pin to the shadow-tip curve.

e. To use your pocket navigator, hold it so that with the shadow-tip is aligned with a plotted point at the specified point. i.e.; if it is now 0900 the shadow-tip must be aligned with that point. This will ensure that your pocket navigator is level. The drawn arrow is now oriented to true north, from which you can orient yourself to any desired direction of travel.

f. The pocket navigator will work all day and will not be out of date for approximately one week.




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