Earth Section Paths

Charles P. Gilbertson

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: The shortest path between two points on a surface are called geodesics. Geodesics on oblate spheroids are rather complex curves described by differential geometry. While these Geodesics have non-zero torsion, there are plane curves that are good approximations for guidance purposes in aviation and sailing. This paper offers a unified approach to Earth section paths, offering good approximate solutions to both the direct and indirect problems of geodesy. Common examples of Earth section paths include normal sections and great ellipses.
Published in: NAVIGATION: Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 59, Number 1
Pages: 1 - 7
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