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If you want to know where you are, you need a good clock. The surprising connection between time and place is explored in Time and Navigation: The Untold Story of Getting from Here to There, the companion book to the National Air and Space Museum exhibition of the same name.
Today we use smartphones and GPS, but navigating has not always been so easy. The oldest "clock" is Earth itself, and the oldest means of keeping time came from observing changes in the sky. Early mariners like the Vikings accomplished amazing feats of navigation without using clocks at all. Pioneering seafarers in the Age of Exploration used dead reckoning and celestial navigation; later innovations such as sextants and marine chronometers honed these techniques by measuring latitude and longitude. When explorers turned their sights to the skies, they built on what had been learned at sea. For example, Charles Lindbergh used a bubble sextant on his record-breaking flights. World War II led to the development of new flight technologies, notably radio navigation, since celestial navigation was not suited for all-weather military operations. These forms of navigation were extended and enhanced when explorers began guiding spacecraft into space and across the solar system. Astronauts combined celestial navigation technology with radio transmissions. The development of the atomic clock revolutionized space flight because it could measure billionths of a second, thereby allowing mission teams to navigate more accurately. Scientists and engineers applied these technologies to navigation on earth to develop space-based time and navigation services such as GPS that is used every day by people from all walks of life.
While the history of navigation is one of constant change and innovation, it is also one of remarkable continuity. Time and Navigation tells the story of navigation to help us understand where we have been and how we got there so that we can understand where we are going.
If you want to know where you are, you need a good clock. This surprising connection between time and place has been true for centuries and is now being explored in Time and Navigation: The Untold Story of Getting from Here to There, the companion book to the National Air and Space Museum exhibition of the same name.
This beautifully illustrated book covers five major topics in navigation history. The first covers the early history of navigation at sea, including the eighteenth-century development of the marine chronometer and solving the problem of measuring longitude. Explorers then turned their sights to the skies; the need to navigate in the air led to the development of bubble sextants and instruments used by Charles Lindbergh as well as the radar technology used during World War II. The space race required new technology for navigating in space, including the atomic clock. The next phase in navigation history was the invention of satellite systems for navigating on the Earth. The book's final major section explores the ubiquity of global navigation systems in day-to-day modern life with GPS devices, smartphones, and other personal electronics.
Complete with sidebars about pioneering navigators as well as missteps in technology that led to later navigation advances, Time and Navigation is a comprehensive exploration of the history of navigation technology and its social implications. It helps us understand where we have been and how we got there so that we can understand where we are going.
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