Interesting Navigation Instruments

Many types of navigational instruments are used on ships, whether they are large commercial vessels concerned with transportation or fishing or perhaps ships that are run by the Coast Guard or our Navy. Each instrument has a specific use, and some are used to measure speed, some locate objects in the distance, some help determine a ship’s precise location. Some of these navigational aids have been around for hundreds of years, while others are newer and while highly accurate, rely on electricity in order to operate. Here are just a few examples of what you might find on board a ship.

Some interesting navigation instruments used in ships are telescopic marine alidades. The alidade is used to find the relative bearing of another object in relation to the ship. When this instrument is used, it is usually mounted on a bearing compass repeater or bearing compass. It is equipped with a telescopic sight and prismatic optical system. Accurate bearings of objects in the distance are clearly obtained, through the telescopic marine alidade. This can be important data to acquire in many situations.

Another piece of equipment that needs no electricity but still is very helpful is the three-arm protractor. In these modern days, a GPS system is often used, but the three-arm protractor still can be used to quickly determine a ship’s location, which certainly can be important if electrical systems fail. Calculations can be made with data measured from this instrument, and the latitude and longitude can be determined. Jointly used with this navigational instrument are navigational charts.

Other equipment such as binoculars and telescopes also are used in navigation. These are optical instruments that are used so that when a person looks through the instrument, objects will look bigger. A binocular is two similar telescopes mounted together and the person using will use both eyes. Telescopes are only with one scope and the person will only use one eye with the instrument. Three dimensional images will be seen with binoculars since both eyes are used. With the use of binoculars, images are more natural, and the object is bigger. Objects that are very far can still look natural and the image is clear and bigger despite the distance. However, high-powered telescopes can be mounted to a ship and these provide excellent viewing of faraway objects.

In general navigation, navigational sextants are instruments used with great importance. Measuring angles between two objects can be made, and this is where sextants are used. This is a navigational instrument with two mirrors used and the first is used to view the horizon. Light from the sun and its reflection is used, and this is the function of the second mirror because it is movable. The instrument’s scale will then be used when reading the angle between the two.

Electronic equipment like sonar and radar are also very important in navigation. These are instruments used to determine and locate objects through the echo of signals bounced off the object. Radar is used with radio waves as medium and sonar with sound waves. Inland or through the air, radio waves are used and in the seas or underwater, sound waves are the mediums used. Radar and sonar have different applications because of the different type of energy used, radio waves for radar and sound waves for sonar.

Carey Bourdier enjoys blogging about precision scientific instruments. To get more information about surveying instruments like a surveyor compass, or to discover other alignment instruments, check out the Warren Knight site now.

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