Università degli Studi di Napoli "Parthenope"

Teaching schedule

Academic year: 
Belonging course: 
Course of Bachelor's Degree Programme on COMMAND AND MANAGEMENT OF A MARINE VESSEL
Disciplinary sector: 
Year of study: 
Second semester
Hours of front activity: 



Course description

The aim of the course is to provide the theoretical and practical aspects for the determination of the astronomical position at sea.

Knowledge and understanding: The student must demonstrate to known and understand the issues related to the Astronomical Navigation aspects.

Ability to apply knowledge and understanding: The student must demonstrate how to use the acquired concepts and the tools necessary to determine the position of a mobile by means of the instruments suitable for measuring astronomical coordinates of the stars.

Judgment autonomy: The student must be able to know how to independently evaluate situations different from the standard presented by the teacher during the course and to adopt the best resolution methods.

Communicative Skills: The student must have the ability to present a composition about Astronomical Navigation topics using the correct scientific language.

Learning Skills: The student must be able to update continuously, through the consultation of texts and publications in order to acquire the ability to deepen the arguments of the Astronomical Navigation Sector


It is necessary to acquire and assimilate the knowledge provided by the Mathematical Analysis, Physics, Fundament of Navigation courses.


Use of celestial bodies to determine the ship’s position:
-recall of the main formulas of spherical trigonometry
-daily apparent motion of the celestial sphere;
- local coordinates and uranographic coordinates;
-transformation of coordinates;
- mean time, sidereal time and true time of the stars;
-The nautical ephemeris;
phenomena that alter the uranographic coordinates of the stars;
-transformation of times; ephemeris time and atomic time; chronometers;
- latitude and longitude determination;
- line of position associated with astronomical height measurements; representation of curves on nautical charts;
-errors on the measurements of the heights of the stars and their modeling;
-linearization of the height circumference;
-Saint Hilaire Height Track
-Determination of position with astronomical observations (sight reduction).
-Marine Sextant; measurement errors;
accidental and systematic errors;
height bisector track.
- Latitude by Polaris.
- Determination of position by means of the height of stars, planets, sun and moon
- graphical and analytical methods.
- Optimizing the position by means of the least square method. - Using the Star Finder to simulate twilight observations.
- The use of azimut of the stars for determination of the deviation of the magnetic and gyroscopic compass

The course deals with the basic elements required for the use of celestial bodies to determine: the ship's position, design of star observation (sight) at twilight and control of position at noon.
The course furnishes some competencies required by the STCW Convention, as amended, for Deck Officers and Marine Engineers at Operational Level, embodied in the MIT decree dated 19th December 2016, namely “Percorso formativo per accedere alle figure professionali di Allievo Ufficiale di Coperta e Allievo Ufficiale di Macchina”.
Particularly, the course furnishes the following competencies, listed in the Attachment I of the above-mentioned decree, for Deck Officer Cadets:

Ability to use celestial bodies to determine the ship’s position.
Further details about the acquired competencies are furnished in the extended version of the programme.

Teaching Methods

Classroom-taught lesson


The didactic material (provided in pdf format) is provided during the course by the teacher.

The American Practical Navigator -Bowditch

Learning assessment

The objective of the exam is to check the level of achievement of the above-mentioned training objectives.
The exam is divided into 2 parts that may take place on the same day.
1) A written test in which the student is called to solve the exercises where astronomical positions are used to determine the position.
2) an oral test in which the ability to link and compare different aspects of the course will be evaluated.
The written test is not passed if the score is lower than 18, in which case the oral test will not be available.
The final score is given by the average written and oral test scores.

More information

Lectures are in Italian. The professor is fluent in English and is available to interact with students in English, also during the examination