Questions tagged [navigation]

This tag is for questions that deal with how navigation works or how tools for navigation work. Note that this site generally deals with questions that don't make sense in our world. So, "How does a compass work" is not a valid question on this site.

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2
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2answers
88 views

Age of Sail ship design to face rogue waves?

I'd like to write about the golden age of piracy and this thought came to me: is there a standard way for a 1600's ship to handle a rogue wave, or does this vary by ship design? My inexistent degree ...
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4answers
145 views

How do you navigate on a cylindrical world?

In my setting, the inhabited world is basically a huge cylinder sticking out of the pole of a gas giant with a breathable atmosphere: Everyone lives on a side of a giant wall, basically - the top is ...
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6answers
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Navigation in space

I'm trying to write a science fiction YA novel which takes place in a world with FTL travel like in star wars and star trek. One problem I've been thinking about is how a spaceship would navigate in ...
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21answers
4k views

What would make sailing difficult?

I'm looking to write a story where the world is a lot of islands separated by rather small water expanses (about the width of the Mediterranean or maybe that and a half) and I am struggling to find a ...
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3answers
145 views

Why do VTOL faerie need a road line plan?

Imagine intelligent yet shy faerie the size of a tennis ball capable of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) are planning a mass migration from ...
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3answers
179 views

How to map a world that changes continuously?

This world is made of living creatures instead of land. Many, small or big, some as big as Scotland, moving around the world. What they eat doesn't matter, how they are alive doesn't matter. The ...
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3answers
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How far would we have to travel to make all of our familiar constellations unrecognisable?

How far would we have to travel to make all of our familiar constellations unrecognisable? (in terms of human recognition)** We know that groupings of stars in constellations is illusory. Two ...
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2answers
245 views

Age of sail navigation tools for a planet with a ring

Alright so I have a planet where the locals are about seventeenth century level of technology, meaning sailing ships and single shot black powder weapons are the standard and there is plenty of ocean ...
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5answers
136 views

Dropping into a new star system: how would you set up a frame of navigational references for use at planetary distances?

My question arises from how to treat navigation within an unknown star system, based on what is in that star system. System North and South can be easy to determine - just observe the directions in ...
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3answers
173 views

How would cats navigate oceans?

So, these are the same cats detailed in previous questions. Intelligence is equivalent to 'human in cat bodies', they have mildly opposable thumbs, they can be bipedal temporarily (Think like bears or ...
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15answers
5k views

Why does my character have such a good sense of direction?

After asking this question (Why would a compass not work in my world?), I've been spending too much time thinking about navigation and direction - specifically, what innate sense of direction might my ...
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18answers
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Why would a compass not work in my world?

I’m trying to build a world with steampunk-level technology, but would like it if compasses didn’t work/exist (or, failing that, if they were prohibitively expensive or difficult to get hold of). The ...
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2answers
205 views

Importing Asian Technology and Political Support into Mesoamerica

This is the year 1400 CE. I am a prince in my early teens, belonging to the Zapotec civilization, Mexico. I always get recurring dream that in less than 4 generations, hostile people from far away ...
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1answer
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Would a torsion balance be able to determine the poles of a planet which has no magnetic field?

My explorers will be using a torsion balance to weigh their new planet. Is there a way to also use a torsion beam to determine the direction to the poles of a rotating planet? My assumption is that it ...
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1answer
76 views

longitude without clocks or GPS, but artificial satellites in geosynchronous orbit

Galileo once noted you could calculate longitude, via the moons of Jupiter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longitude#Noting_and_calculating_longitude Could identifiable satellites be put in orbit ...
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4answers
1k views

How to teach the Mesoamericans seafaring?

I want to have a powerful Mesoamerican civilisation by the 1100s; one that decides to sail east and discover Europe. Earlier versions of the story had them contacted by Zheng He in the 1400s, but I ...
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11answers
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Can a low-tech sailing ship tell how deep the water is?

I'm trying to figure out the challenges faced by a low-tech civilization mapping its world. They have access to roughly Renaissance level technology, plus some (not very abundant) magic. One question ...
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2answers
94 views

Navigating in a Subsurface Ocean

Based on the planet from this question. The main thing that distinguishes this planet from, say, Europa, is the handwavium light-source, which I must assume is wrapped in a perpetual explosion wrapped ...
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8answers
3k views

Figuring out the Cosmic Compass (Updated)

I'm developing a fantasy setting where people can go to other planes (universes) that are not made of mostly empty space, like our universe is. Instead, you have universes made mostly (but not ...
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19answers
4k views

How could a spaceship, because of mechanical issues, crash-land on a planet they weren't intending on travelling to? [closed]

Apologize in advance if this sounds too much like a story-related question, but I'll try and limit it to logistics-only as much as possible. I have a spaceship that's travelling to a colony planet ...
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5answers
752 views

An Aztec ship sails east - where does it land?

Given: An ahistorically powerful and advanced Aztec civilisation, anno late 1400s. A set of circumstances much like the ones that led Columbus west: one mad Aztec convinced the world was rather small ...
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12answers
5k views

Without modern electronics, how could you determine your longitude, latitude, and altitude while lost deep underground?

Brief setting notes: it's a "basically earth" type situation, a spinning ball of rock in space with the same size and gravity and atmosphere and magnetic fields and everything else. The main ...
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1answer
140 views

Quick! How far away is that asteroid?

How might an enterprising spacer, mining the rings of Saturn, go about quickly measuring/estimating the velocity of and distance to a nearby moving object (asteroid, habitat, pirate, etc)? Bonus ...
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14answers
8k views

In a world without stars, how would travelers navigate at night?

On Earth, sailors would navigate the oceans at night by using the stars as guides; since there are no landmarks in the ocean like there are on land (save for the occasional island), that's pretty much ...
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2answers
88 views

Navigation on a planet with an eccentric orbit

On this planet, there is a nomadic tribe of humans who are the descendants of unwilling colonists from thousands of years prior. They are a nomadic tribe because of the incredibly extreme seasons, ...
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1answer
110 views

If I could sense magnetic north, could I sense magnetic south?

In a world I am helping build there is a certain group of people with the ability to produce electricity from their bodies (and control it, I believe), an additional power I gave them was the ability ...
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2answers
191 views

Would navigation work if the magnetic poles were located at the equator?

Let's say the magnetic North Pole is and has been located around 0, 0 (off the coast of Africa) for all of human history, and the magnetic South Pole 180 degrees to the east/west. Maybe the Earth's ...
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23answers
11k views

What could prevent players from leaving an island?

I am currently building a campaign for DnD. The main plot plays out on an island the heroes are stranded on after their ship goes off track and sinks. They discover that this island is ruled by ...
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2answers
258 views

The North Star in the ancient world sky

Question: Would a modern-day teen, trained in using the north star for directions when camping/hiking, notice a difference in how the "north star" (Polaris) works when transported suddenly to 1350 BCE?...
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6answers
809 views

How to determine port and starboard on a rotating wheel space station?

The ISS uses port and starboard to differentiate between the two sides of the station. (The Harmony node photographed after it was attached to its temporary location on the International Space ...
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4answers
500 views

Navigating storm fronts in space

Storm fronts — especially surprise storm fronts — are a popular Sci-Fi trope. Ion storms and radiation storms and neutronic storms and they invariably look 2D, like ribbons in space. But ...
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1answer
103 views

Logic behind planets being gate realms in a regular universe [closed]

I have designed a universe with three main planets that contain life, but the three planets are impossible to reach via space travel for irrelevant reasons. What matters is that in order to get from ...
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5answers
3k views

How vulnerable are the undersea internet cables to deliberate sabotage by one of the major powers (US, UK, Russia, etc)? [closed]

Over 99% of the transcontinental internet traffic goes through a network of 280 sets of undersea cables. How vulnerable are these to deliberate sabotage by the major powers? I'd rather not focus ...
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6answers
220 views

Is it possible to “Smell” in Space? Viable Equivalents?

I am currently creating a Spacefaring Race that regularly travels between planetary systems in order to harvest resources, but due to the fact that the conditions required for them to Breed are fairly ...
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2answers
191 views

Compass on a Ringed, Earth-like Planet

Is it necessarily a given that a compass (as they magnetically function on Earth) could be made to function similarly on an alternate, Earth-like, ringed planet? Another way of asking: is it feasible ...
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3answers
352 views

How to navigate a ringed planet at night?

I'm working on a story set in an Earth-like world but with rings (say, proportionately similar to Saturn's). I'm trying to get a solid handle on how these rings would affect the sky. For the ...
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6answers
1k views

Does this explanation of “one way” world traversing make sense?

I basically have a mechanism in my universe that allows humans to travel to different worlds (called offworlds) filled with different creatures and systems of magic, and this is very integral to the ...
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3answers
220 views

How to broadcast Earth's position to someone in the future?

Using current technology, what could I do to optimize the odds of being located by time-traveling humans a thousand years from now? The accuracy must be such that they could "transport" me out of a ...
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3answers
3k views

How can I locate myself in a random point of space?

Some Context I'm creating a universe where humanity has reached the stars. They've colonized a few star systems and, obviously, FTL drives are a common thing. They basically jump you to another ...
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8answers
914 views

Which part of the universe would make celestial navigation most difficult for a planet?

Premise I envisage a world of would-be navigators with roughly Bronze Age technology, sailing on ships to explore their planet. In contrast to our history of navigation where we "cracked the code" ...
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2answers
213 views

How to find earth's relative position anywhere in the galaxy without any markers or brute force exploration?

The idea is that is to find the ancient seat of power of humans which is earth, but no one knows where it is, there was no transmitter nor any markers that will give the relative position. The catch ...
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2answers
275 views

Extrapolating from the GPS network for time travel

One of the aspects of most sci fi time travel representations that I find most challenging for my suspension of disbelief is this idea of people travelling through time and not travelling through ...
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12answers
5k views

How would a sailing ship travel on land?

Or, more specifically : How, starting with a regular ~16th something-century sailing ship, could it be possible to modify it to go on both land and sea? In a pre-industrial setting, no fuel, no steam. ...
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3answers
644 views

Navigation on a tidally locked planet

I have a tidally locked planet on a circular orbit, with an axial tilt of 22.5° That means one side is always in the sun, the other one in the shade. The subsolar point moves along a north-south line ...
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7answers
4k views

What are the ley lines this nomadic people uses to follow the same path year after year?

In the world I'm building, there is a race of people whose main shtick is that they can detect the magnetic fields of their planet and use them to navigate. In one of their cultures, the people are ...
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5answers
1k views

How to navigate the hyperbolic world

Let's say our world is set in a hyperbolic space with a curvature $K$ of $-1$ per $9$ square meters. The surface of our world is a hyperbolic plane (approximately, there are still hills and valleys ...
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19answers
6k views

Designing “age of sail” ships that require no wind

Sails were good, they made ships go farther than ever before, relieved them of the critical necessity of oars, and with the right design they could even sail into the wind. However, sail ships have ...
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2answers
405 views

How close to Impossible can Navigation be on a Jungle Planet (for a Stone Age Civilization)?

Premise I would like to create a world that is rendered nearly impossible to navigate by natural circumstances. In my particular world, a thick jungle covers the whole planet from pole to pole; this ...
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9answers
1k views

Stellar Navigation for Dummies - Finding your way home

Average Joe was an amateur astronomer. While he was out in the wilds one day with his telescope he was kidnapped by aliens, carried off and kept as a slave on a world somewhere in the Milky Way. ...
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6answers
1k views

How would living at a pole affect mapping and navigation?

Thanks to the orientation and position of the planet, PommeDeTerra has a habitable island with a temperate climate at it's south pole that looks a little like this: This island is very similar to ...