ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What is Navigation?

Updated on May 1, 2011

Navigation is the process of directing the movement of a craft from one point to another.

The term is derived from the Latin words navis meaning "ship" and agere meaning "to move" or "to direct".

The expression marine navigation is often used when the craft is a water-borne vessel, and air navigation when aircraft are involved. The expression space navigation is applied to navigation of craft operating outside the atmosphere of the earth.

Navigation is often considered to be both a science and an art. Science is involved in the development of the instruments and methods of navigation, as well as in the computations involved. The skillful use of navigational instruments, and the interpretation of available data, may be considered an art. This combination has led some authors to refer to navigation as a "scientific art".

The subject can be covered only in its broadest outlines in an article of this kind. For a fuller and more technical treatment the reader is referred to a good textbook such as Dutton's Navigation and Piloting, used at the United States Naval Academy, or the more comprehensive reference book American Practical Navigator (U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office, Publication No.9), originally by Nathaniel Bowditch.

Navigation may be conveniently discussed under three general headings: piloting, dead reckoning, and celestial navigation.

Piloting relates to the determination of position relative to the objects used. Traditionally, these have been natural landmarks and such manmade aids as lighthouses, lightships, beacons, and buoys. More recently, various electronic aids have been added. In space navigation, even celestial bodies might be used when position is determined relative to them.

Dead reckoning is the determination of position by advancing a well-determined position for the direction and distance that a craft is assumed to have traveled by a given time.

Celestial navigation is the determination of position by observation of celestial bodies, but not position relative to the bodies observed. On the earth, position by celestial navigation is determined by means of lines of position relative to the "geographical positions" (on earth) of the celestial bodies at the time of observation. The expression navigational astronomy is used to refer to that part of astronomy of direct use to a navigator, comprising principally celestial coordinates, time, and the apparent motions of celestial bodies.

History of Navigation

Navigation has been used ever since man ventured from his immediate surroundings with a definite destination in mind. Since natural landmarks were his first aids, piloting was the earliest form 'of navigation. This was still true when he set out upon the waters. Once he ventured out of sight of land, a crude form of dead reckoning came into use. Before instruments were developed, man read directions in the winds, water, and clouds. Celestial bodies were also used, but it was much later that they became useful for determination of position. This awaited accurate predictions of their future positions, and the development of instruments for measurement of angles in the sky. Distance, determined by estimate, was of less importance.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)