Did You Know ...

... that captains practice navigating in a planetarium?

These days, ship captains usually navigate using satellite-supported applications which automatically display their vessels' exact position. But what happens in the event of a power-cut, or if the GPS signal is no longer received for some other reason? Then they have to switch to classical navigation with the help of the stars and a sextant. They practice this in planetariums.

This applies to both civilian and military seafaring. The Muerwik Naval Academy, home of the "Gorch Fock" school ship, is the training center for officers and cadets of the German navy. The Academy provides training using contemporary methods and modern technology in a traditional maritime setting.

The planetarium's current ZEISS projector dates from 1986 and has therefore been providing loyal service for almost three decades. However, the Naval Academy has now installed a new Skymaster ZKP 4 LED. The fully-furnished planetarium projector shows the celestial coordinates. With the help of a variable nautical triangle, astronomical navigation can be learnt in a way which is easy to remember.

In some cases, astronomical navigation can save lives. It enables captains and officers to stop the ship in navigable waters and steer it in the right direction, in the event that GPS systems fail. Efficient training in planetariums is therefore an important method, and it is supported by ZEISS projectors in many marine and maritime colleges.


17 September 2014