Columbus Navigation (Dead Reckoning):

In the late 15th century, celestial navigation was just budding in Europe, mainly by the Portuguese. Before this, the Europeans relied largely on deduced/ dead reckoning.


Deduced/ dead reckoning:

the navigator finds his position by measuring the course and distance he has sailed from some known point. Then, he measures his course and distance from that point on a chart, pricking the chart with a pin to mark the new position.


In the Mediterranean Sea, it is not very useful to navigate celestially, because the latitude is the roughly the same over that area. In confined water, it is much easier to use dead reckoning to find one’s latitude and hence navigate.


Columbus was primarily a dead-reckoning navigator. He did experiment with the celestial navigation technique from time to time, but according to records, he was not very successful. Perhaps Columbus’ failure was due to a mixture of bad luck and a general lack of celestial-navigation technique and instruments.


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