Azimuth of the Sun
Computation of compass error at sea depends upon the observation of the azimuth of celestial bodies. The Sun is the most commonly used for this purpose. The observed azimuth is recorded, the time (to the nearest second) and the DR position are also noted. With DR position and time, the navigator computes Zn by using the Nautical Almanac and PUB 229 Sight Reduction Tables. The difference between pgc bearing and Zn (true bearing) is the gyro error (G.E.), and the difference between psc bearing and the magnetic bearing is the deviation. It should be appropriately labeled. Keep in mind that accuracy depends on the navigator’s knowledge of position and the correct time.
In taking a azimuth of a celestial body, the azimuth circle is used. A azimuth circle is a nonmagnetic metal ring sized to fit on a 7-inch compass bowl or on a gyro repeater. The inner lip is graduated in degrees from 0° to 360° in a counterclockwise direction for the purpose of taking relative bearings. Two sighting vanes (the forward or far van containing a vertical wire, and the after or near vane containing a peep sight) facilitate the observation of bearings and azimuths. Two finger lugs are used to position the instrument exactly while aligning the vanes. A hinged reflector vane mounted althe base and beyond the forward vane is used for reflecting stars and planets when observing azimuths. Beneath the forward vane a reflecting mirror and the extended vertical wire are mounted, enabling the navigator to read the bearing or azimuth from the reflected portion of the compass card. For observing azimuths of the Sun, an additional reflecting mirror and housing are mounted on the ring, each midway between the forward and after vanes. The Sun’s rays are reflected by the mirror to the housing where a vertical slit admits a line of light. This admitted light passes through a 45° reflecting prism and is projected on the compass card from which the azimuth is directly read. In observing both bearings and azimuths, two spirit levels, which are attached must be used to level the instrument. A azimuth is similar to a amplitude but it is taken at anytime, not at sunrise or sunset. When taking a azimuth it requires the use of Pub. 229 Sight Reduction Tables for Marine Navigation to obtain the Zn (true bearing).