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Glossary

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astronomer

A scientist who studies what is beyond planet earth such as planets, moons, stars, galaxies, nebulae, back holes.

atomic clock

Very accurate clock which uses the known properties of certain atoms to record time.

cadastral maps

Maps which show who owns land.

cartography

The process of drawing or making maps.

circumnavigate

Go all the way around. Often used in sea navigation for going right around the world.

cluster (star cluster)

A star cluster is a group of stars held together by gravity. Matariki is a star cluster, not a constellation.

constellataion

A distinctive pattern of stars. These stars may form shapes that are recognisable to us here on Earth, they do not usually have any real link to each other, as they are often at different distances from the Earth, and are in fact very far away from each other.

coordinates

Angular or linear values that give the position of a point on a map.

datum

A set of values used to define a specific geodetic system e.g. MSL - Mean Sea Level.

dead reckoning

The process of calculating your current position by using a known position, or fix, and working out your new position based on known or estimated speeds over the elapsed time and course.

echo-sounding

The modern technique used to measure water depth by bouncing sound waves off the sea floor.

elevation

The height above mean sea level.

erosion

Process of wearing away and transporting of rocks by wind, rain or ice. 

fix

In navigation a fix is a position which is found by using known reference points and measuring from these.

geocaching

A sport where people use GPS to hide and seek containers called caches or geocaches anywhere in the world.

geographic datum

A datum which is based on the Earth's centre of mass. The advantage of the geocentric datum is its direct compatibility with satellite-based navigation systems such as GPS.

geospatial

To do with location.

geospatial data

Data or information about the location of specific things.

GPS

Global Positioning System - uses the known distance between satellites to calculate exact locations.

GIS

Geographic Information Systems - maps that combine sets of information.

hydrographic surveys

A survey which records the physical features of waterways.

hydrography

The science of measuring and describing the physical features of waterways.

indigenous

Originating and living or occurring naturally in an area or environment.

intersection

Sometimes called triangulation. Where the known angles and distance between points is used to calculate the location of a distant point.

latitude

Distance from the equator in degrees, shown as horizontal lines on a map.

longitude

Distance east or west from Greenwich, England, in degrees shown as vertical lines on a map.

mariners

Sailors - especially to do with navigation.

Matariki
A star cluster also known as Pleiades or the Seven Sisters which rises in the mid winter night sky and is used to mark the Māori New Year.

nautical charts

Charts or maps of features at sea such as reefs, coastlines, shipping hazards and sometimes water depths and currents.

navigation

The process or activity of accurately working out your position and planning and following a route.

radar

An object-detection system that uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects such as aircraft.

satellites

Objects which are sent into space to orbit the Earth and send and receive information.

sextant

A tool for celestial navigation used to measure the angle between the horizon and a visible object or two objects at sea.

sounding line

A line with a lead weight on the end which is lowered into water to measure the water depth.

star compass
Developed by Polynesian navigators the star compass shows where the stars will rise and set on the celestial equator. Like the Sun, stars rise in the eastern horizon and set in the western horizon. Navigators who know the direction and position in which the stars rise and set can use the horizon as a compass.

surveyors

People who specialise in making accurate measurements on the surface of the earth to make maps.

theodolite

An optical instrument used by surveyors to measure angles to give exact locations of distant points.

topographic

The shape of the Earth's surface.

topographic map

Shows the shape of the surface, including altitude as well as natural and physical features - sometimes called a contour map.

Transit of Venus

An event that happens less than once every hundred years, when the planet Venus travels between the Earth and the Sun. It was especially important centuries ago because observations helped to work out the distance between the Earth and the Sun and to estimate the size of the Solar System. 

trigonometry

A type of maths that measures the angles and sides of triangles and uses this information and set formula to find the unknown sides and angles. This type of maths can also be used to find the location of distant points.

Tuia 250

In 2019, Aotearoa New Zealand will acknowledge 250 years since the first onshore meetings between Māori and Europeans. 

waymarking

An activity where people can locate and log interesting locations anywhere in the world.