I'm a writer doing research for a time travel story; my character's origin is in 1962 and his contraption has been built into a DC-3 No fancy mechanical clock dials or precision digital readouts; when the contraption is activated he "flies" back and forth through the time dimensions in a manner similar to navigating through the air.
Eventually I plan to have him recognize that an alternating band of dark and light represents a 24 hour day and that there's a more subtle pattern as the sun traces its way through the analemma which lets him count years, and by varying the "field intensity" he'll be able to progress more quickly or slowly. But for the very first time jump, with no experience and nothing calibrated, I want to have him badly overshoot his mark and end up in the year 1519.
When he lands the DC-3 he has no idea of when in time he is, and the only instruments he has are those which he brought with him from 1962. I'm writing the character as a physicist, the dean of the science department at a fictional university in Western Australia. So, with that as the setup...
- How might he recognize when he is? Western Australia in the 16th century was a mighty lonely place, especially when you're looking for a newspaper or a petrol station...
- What instruments and reference books should a putative time traveler have been prudent enough to bring on board before departing? (By The Way, I'd like to write in a US Navy Mark V aviation sextant with chronometric averager...since I have one. I'm leery of posting links my first time out, but more data is available on the web site of a company called Celestaire.)
- What are some of the calculations which might be necessary to work out his chronological position?
Help me get my character back to 1962...in time to get involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis!
Edit To Add: It's been autosuggested that I edit my question. What I'm looking for are patterns in the night sky which might predictably change over long periods and which a physicist knowledgeable of astronomy could recognize and interpret. Aside from the Mark V sextant (which does have an internal, radium-illuminated bubble level/horizon), what other tools, instruments, and reference works would be helpful? Again, I'm not suggesting that he focus down to a specific day or even year; if he can chronologically locate himself within a twenty- or even fifty-year window it will work for the purposes of my story.
Second edit: It has been suggested that an observation of Uranus and Neptune would be helpful. I'm pretty sure that Neptune is out, but the Mark V sextant has a 2x telescopic optical path. Is it possible to take an accurate sighting of Uranus with a 2 power telescopic sextant after you have located the position of the planet with a larger, portable tripod-mounted telescope? If so, or if an sufficiently accurate sighting could be taken with the larger telescope, how would one work out the calculations from there?