Identifying Moderately Bright Navigational Stars.

by tonytran2015 (Melbourne, Australia).

Some navigational stars are only moderately bright although they are in the top 20 brightest stars. Antares and Fomalhaut are two such stars. They are used for navigation from September to November but are not easy to identify among their nearly as bright neighbours. The method for identifying them is to relate them to brighter neighbours which have been identified in previous periods of the year.

(GPS navigation cannot be relied on during periods of uncertainty. Traditional methods of navigation is still a necessay skill.)

Step 1: ​Using an Identifying Map.

Knowing the date or even only the month of a star help locating parts of the sky where it may be found. The map giving distances and angles to its more distinctive neighbours then help its identification.

The maps are to be held such that its shown Celestial pole is pointing close to that actual Celestial pole whether it is in the sky or below the ground. The map is thus to be held in the star direction but oriented either upright or up-side-down.

Step 2: Examples.

Figure 1: Antares in Scorpii with its neighbours. The centering mark is the Southern Celestial pole. Figure 2: Fomalhaut with Alpha, Beta Grus and their neighbours. The centering mark is the Southern Celestial pole. Figure 3: Hamal in Aries and its brighter neighbours. The tail of the inverted Little Dipper in the North is the North pole.

The first two maps make easy the confusing identification process of these two Southern navigational stars for October. The third map makes easy the identification process of the dim Northern star Hamal in Aries for November.


[1]. tonytran2015, Finding North and time by stars in the tropics, Instructables,

posted on May 11, 2016.

[2]. tonytran2015, Finding North direction and time by stars, Instructables, , posted on Jul 24, 2015.



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