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Educational Department
- Offshore Navigation -

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Offshore Navigation Committee
Frequently Asked Questions


Following are some questions that are frequently asked of the ONCom.


For questions concerning OpenCPN or Visual Passage Planner 2 software, check the N15 Software FAQ web page. For questions concerning The Capn software, check the N09 Software FAQ web page.




1. QUESTION:  May I include more than the one required observation of a body at Meridian Transit in my N sight folder?

ANSWER:  By all means, yes!  We encourage students to take more than the minimum number of sights required for any sight folder requirement, since these could serve as replacement sights should the reduced sight(s) not meet the basic requirement for whatever reason.  We have always encouraged students to do this, especially for Meridian Transit sights, where the minimum is only one sight.

2.  QUESTION:  I've used the NavChk program from the USPS web page to verify my sight reductions.  Should I include those printouts with my sight folder to save National some work?

ANSWER:  Extra material should not be included with your sight folder.  That includes any computer- or calculator-produced printouts or plots, such as that provided by either NavChk, Plottool, or Celestial Tools.  While we appreciate the thought, we need to provide completely independent review of sight folder data and information.  This independence pretty much rules out using student- or sight checker-provided information.  Please do not include materials other than what is required with your sight folders.

3.  QUESTION:  I seem to have different versions of some N forms from those shown in the USPS manuals.  May I use these different forms?

ANSWER:  As our forms are updated to better suit our N course, differing versions of USPS forms may appear in your student kit (or on this web page).  Please be advised that you may use an older or newer version of a USPS form for ONCom work, if it still applies to the subject at hand.  The same applies to deck and sight logs.  So don't panic if you get a version of a form that is newer than the date of your student folder; just go ahead and use the form as you normally would.  If you have questions, please contact the National ONCom Chair.

4.  QUESTION:  When does the meridian angle of the body I am shooting for my N sight folder have to be at least 10 degrees away from my (observer's) meridian?

ANSWER:  This requirement only applies to the sights for the two body fix for N, and is necessary so that the sight data is close to being a straight line function within the time period required giving a more accurate fix.  This constraint does not apply to the remaining N sights.

5.  QUESTION:  May I use electronic means (e.g., GPS) to determine my known position for my sight folder?

ANSWER:  Yes, you may use electronic means to determine your known position for sight taking.  You may use GPS, RADAR, etc. as you see fit.  You are responsible for ensuring that the electronic receiver is functioning properly and that the electronic system is accurate enough.

6.  QUESTION:  For my N sight folder, may I use stars other than those listed in the "Index to Selected Stars" that appears at the beginning of the Nautical Almanac?

ANSWER:  Yes, for N you may use any star that has its Sidereal Hour Angle (SHA) and declination (dec) listed in the back of the Nautical Almanac (normally found on pages 268-273).

7.  QUESTION:  May I use a night vision scope to view the horizon when taking sights for my sight folder?

ANSWER:  Both JN and N will continue to teach traditional celestial navigation.   Accordingly, use of night vision equipment will not be allowed for sights submitted in sight folders.

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This page last updated Saturday, January 11, 2020 21:48