What is Navigation?

Since prehistoric times, people have been trying to figure out a reliable way to tell where
they are and how to get to their destination—and home again. Such knowledge often meant survival and economic power in society. Early cultures probably marked trails when they set out hunting for food. They later began making maps and, by the Classical Age of Greece, developed the use of latitude (your location on Earth measured north or south from the equator) and longitude (your location on Earth measured east or west of a designated prime meridian) as a way of locating places. Today the prime meridian, used worldwide, runs through the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, England.

Early mariners followed the coast closely to keep from getting lost. When they
learned to chart their course by following the stars, they could venture out into
the open ocean. The ancient Phoenicians used the North Star to journey from
Egypt and Crete. According to Homer, the goddess Athena told Odysseus to
“keep the Great Bear on his left” during his travels from Calypso’s Island.
Unfortunately the stars are only visible at night—and only on clear nights.
Sometimes lighthouses provided a light to guide mariners at night and warn
them of nearby hazards.

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