Home Sailing Greece Yacht charters Charter guide Gulets

Mathematics: Distance of horizon

Distance of horizon

distance of horizon
AD = h is the height of eye above the earth.
DO = BO = CO = r (radius of the earth).

Factum: any angle between a tangent line to a circle and the radius of the circle is a right angle.

Since we have a right triangle ABO where AB = d,
AO = h+r and BO = r,
we can find a formula for d in terms of h:
(AO)2 = AB2+BO2
(h+r)2 = d2+r2
d = sqrt[(h+r)2-r2)],
where r is approx. 3.440.1 nm

An example: Let the eye height (h) be 4 meters (= 0.0022 nm); find the distance in nm of the geometrical horizon.
d = sqrt[(0.0022 + 3.440.1)2 - 3.440.12)]   ;   d = sqrt[11834303 - 11834288]
d = sqrt[15.146]   ;   d = 3.89 nm (geometrical)

The distance of the visible horizon as found in the table is greater (4.2 nm) due to atmospheric refraction.
The semi-empirical function used is:
d = sqrt[ (2x3440.1xh) / (1852xρo) ], where ρo accounts for refraction (0.8279).

Next math chapter: Sextant angles

Further reading:
Online navigation courses.
Flotilla sailing holidays.
RYA & ASA sailing schools in Greece.
Yacht charters guide.

30 March 2019
        © 2000 – 2019 Diederik Willemsen | E-mail me
Site map | A-Z index | Register
 RSS XML Feed | Level AA conformance icon, W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 | |