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Navigation in Space

A space traveler would get confused and probably get lost among the stars if he used an earth base star chart to navigate. As one traveled deeper into space they would need a computer that could translate a stars known absolute magnitude into its apparent visual magnitude from that position. Visual navigation among the stars would be difficult to say the least. Even with a computer generated chart the navigator would be starring into unfamiliar skies. Just like a new enthusiast trying to identify constellations for the first time. It seems almost overwhelming and is.

Navigation in space would be more likely done by clocks. These clocks would be very accurate time pieces that kept the proper time even at the high speeds necessary to travel through space. The space navigator could then compare the time of a known position with the astronomical time of their current position. These two times would then be used to calculated distance travel and current location.

Astronomical time is the time that is determined by and astronomic object or phenomena. For example, on earth we can tell what time it is from any location by the suns position or a stars position. We would have to find something similar to gage space travel by. Maybe a variable star or a known stars intrinsic brightness could be used. The stars absolute magnitude values would become extremely import to the traveler. Stars could be identified by there absolute magnitudes, spectrum and other physical properties that finger print them.

The traveler could use triangulation to determine the distances of nearby stars. If he knows what stars he is looking at he could nail his location. To use triangulation though he would need a known base leg. This base leg would have to be quite large. On earth we can determine the distance of nearby stars using earths orbit around the sun as our base leg. This method takes six months to plot a star from both ends of the leg. With our space craft we could send out a high speed probe to a set distance and wait for it to get there. When the signal comes back from the probe the base leg is established. Angles between the craft, probe and star would be plotted to determine location.

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