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How Did Ulysses Sail By The Stars?
In The Odyssey, Book V (by Homer 800BC) Ulysses is trying to get back home to Greece some 400 nm miles away (northeast) and his sailing directions from Ogygia (Malta) are given in celestial terms. (Due to mitigating circumstances, he ends up in Phaecia (Corfu) somewhat NW of his destination, Ithaca):
"Moreover, she made the wind fair and warm for him, and gladly did Ulysses spread his sail before it, while he sat and guided the raft skillfully by means of the rudder. He never closed his eyes, but kept them fixed on the Pleiads, on late-setting Bootes, and on the Bear- which men also call the wain, and which turns round and round where it is, facing Orion, and alone never dipping into the stream of Oceanus- for Calypso had told him to keep this to his left. Days seven and ten did he sail over the sea, and on the eighteenth the dim outlines of the mountains on the nearest part of the Phaeacian coast appeared, rising like a shield on the horizon."
These directions sound easy, but they are not. I tried it with some planetarium software, but got a little confused on following the goddess''s instructions. I''m trying to get a better feel on how he navigated the stars (remember, Polaris is nowhere near the North due to Earth''s precession). Any comments? (This is not a test!)