This project has been supported by an Institute of Physics (Scotland) Public Engagement Grant.
All materials are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
The project idea has been presented at:
- Spathopoulos, V.M., “Navigating with the stars: Using Google Earth and Stellarium to teach elementary principles of celestial navigation”, International Astronomy Union, Communicating Astronomy with the Public, Virtual Conference, May 2021.
- Spathopoulos, V.M., “Learning from ancient travellers: an online resource for teaching the principles of celestial navigation", Global Hands-On Universe, Virtual Conference, August 2021. (click title to view the presentation)
- The Orkney International Science Festival, September 2021.
- The Big Bounce Institute of Physics Science Festival, October 2021.
For thousands of years humans have used the stars, sun and moon to find their way home. Examples of simple but ingenious techniques for navigation were developed and deployed by travellers ranging from the ancient Greeks, to the Polynesians and the Vikings. Nowadays, technological solutions such as GPS navigation are used instead, but the traditional methods of finding one’s direction can still fascinate and therefore provide an excellent way of motivating the general public to take up astronomy as a pastime. With this in mind, an innovative set of online tasks has been developed using a combination of Google Earth and the Stellarium planetarium software. Both software applications are free to use and are available in web versions, making them easily accessible to anyone with and internet connection. The tasks take the user on a journey around the world (using Google Earth) and also back in time. The ancient Phoenicians, Greeks, the Vikings and the Polynesians are all encountered, revealing their methods for using the stars, sun and moon to find direction. Their techniques are implemented using the Stellarium software and practical activities are also suggested. Overall, users are provided with an immersive experience which is hoped will motivate them to connect further to the wonders of the sky. Suitable for anyone with a very basic understanding of science (for children above the age of 14).
So if you want to embark on this journey, just click on the link below. Once Google Earth starts, hit the 'Present' tab and you are off!
Click below to start the journey:
For the version in Greek, click here: