GPS monitoring technology – Navigation has changed dramatically since the days of John Harrison in the early 1700’s and today’s GPS monitoring technology that includes GPS asset tracking, equipment GPS tracker, GPS tracker for trailor, motorcycle GPS units, military GPS watch and GPS for seniors. Mariners can locate their position anywhere on earth with a universal coordinate system that uses meridians of longitude and parallels of latitude. In 1710 there was a slight problem. While latitude was easily measured and fixed by the laws of nature, longitude shifted as a vessel wandered north or south. Mariners could not measure longitude in 1710.
By 1759, Englishman John Harrison had completed the seagoing H-4 timekeeper. It was a breakthrough in its day as big as the introduction of the fully operational NAVSTAR GPS satellite system in 1995. Being able to measure time at two different points on the ocean was Harrison’s key to solving the riddle of longitude. With an H-4 timekeeper, a skipper could safely navigate to any point on the known globe. Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel tells the compelling story of this navigational quest.
The NAVSTAR satellites that provide information to your GPS monitoring technology receiver are also dependent on accurate time keeping. NAVSTAR stands for Navigation Signal Timing And Ranging Global Positioning System. Your handheld GPS for hunting receiver can remarkably calculate distance measurements from four GPS satellites simultaneously to compute your exact time and position.
Use of GPS monitoring technology is now ubiquitous in our society. Vessels carry GPS chart plotters that contain complete digital charts of the ocean, dash mounted receivers direct drivers to an unfamiliar address, GPS receivers are found in Cellular phones and laptop computers, a hiker can use their GPS like a modern trail of bread crumbs to find their way into a new area to explore, or you could look for a geocach. GPS monitoring technology touches our lives and has had a significant impact on the quality of our outdoor experiences.
The Use of Stone Canoes in Polynesian Navigation Schools
When it comes to sailing no-one did it better than the Polynesians who excelled at navigating the world’s largest ocean without the aid of modern-day instruments. Master mariners, they steered by the stars at night and by day kept a close look out for the weather, birds, clouds, winds, wave patterns, ocean swells, water color and temperature and other tell-tale signs of land.
Special astronomy schools were established to teach sky-lore to navigator priests, and sometimes priestesses. Learning songs and chants to memorize their science, teaching tools were also used to assist in their maritime education. Most memorable of these was the use of stone canoes or ‘navigation stones’ as they are also known.
Polynesian Navigation, Standing And Sighting Stones
Stones have always held fascination for many people around the world, not least the Polynesians. In many places throughout the Pacific they were erected for astronomical, navigational and ceremonial purposes.
In We, the Navigators, author David Lewis tells of several sites where these stones have been used. The most famous of these are the nine navigation stones on the coral atoll of Arorae in the small island republic of Kiribati.
Used to teach navigation skills long ago the stones are called Atibu ni Borau, which means ‘stones for voyages’. Eight of the stones are paired and are directional pointing toward neighboring islands with a constant error of five degrees, allowing for tidal currents. The ninth sits alone.
The purpose of the ninth stone, the largest, is not known but given certain stones contain mana or power it may represent a priest navigator who tutored the students, or else the island’s chief. Some reports say there were originally eleven or thirteen stones but no-one seems to know for certain.
How Navigation Stones Work
The stones or flat slabs of coral are about five by four feet long and about six inches thick. Set on edge they are secured by paving holding them upright. At dusk students would sit between two of the stone slabs simulating a virtual canoe. Fixing their sights on certain horizon stars they would study and memorize the stars’ movements and bearings.
As the night wore on they would familiarize themselves with the changing night sky learning the star paths as they would rise and set before dawn. After a considerable period of learning they would then apply their new-found knowledge to actual journeys.
Brett Hilder and David Lewis suggest the stones played another role as ‘sighting stones’ used to align departing canoes, their courses having already been set.
Where Are The Kiribati Islands
The Kiribati Islands are located in the western Pacific Ocean straddling the equator to the north of Fiji and Samoa. Formerly known as the Gilbert Islands, Kiribati is now officially a republic. Arorae is the southernmost island having an area of just 9.5 square kilometres and a population of about 1,527 people. The navigation stones are situated at the northern head of the atoll waiting to be visited by curious souls with a healthy sense of adventure and wanderlust.
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