23-Sep-2010 -- I received an invitation to lecture about 'The Astronomical Aspects of Crescent Sighting' in Bochum, and so an opportunity appeared to add a new Confluence to my collection. On my way to Bochum, I would pass on the Autobahn only a few kilometres from 51N 8E, so a short detour should not matter.
On Thursday afternoon, I left my work in sufficient time to get to Bochum (which meant a distance of around 300 km) in the early evening, and additionally to have enough time for the intended confluence side trip. Without any delays I arrived at the Autobahn crossing Olpe-Süd where I left my main track and soon approached the small village of Littfeld. My sat nav guided me easily through the village's roads, I passed the narrow one-lane tunnel under the railway (the passage through the tunnel is regulated by a traffic light on either side), and entered the forest outside of the village on a small tarmac road. When a gravelled side road branched off to the left, I parked my car and started walking the remaining 200 m on foot.
So far, everything went very fine. But at a distance of only 40 m to the Confluence, the gravelled road ended and I had to enter the undergrowth and the tall trees of the spruce forest, and then the problems began. My GPS receiver immediately lost permanent contact to the satellites, and I started a lengthy straying around in the forest. I tried to interpret the GPS coordinates to approach the Confluence closer with the help of my magnetic compass, but the GPS receiver only updated its display from time to time, and so I was badly mislead.
After quite a while I ended up on a forest glade, where the reception seemed somehow more continuous, but due to the actual arrangement of the receivable satellites nearly in a line over the sky, I could not get an EPE of less than 28-32 m and the search for the spot with the zero minutes and seconds was nearly hopeless, as the indicated coordinates were completely instable. I stumbled over the glade for nearly 45 minutes, but could not get a good reading. When I was ready to give up, I noticed that the satellites' placement on the sky seemed to have improved, so that I could now get an EPE of 9 m. This spurred me on to give it a last try to catch the zero minutes and seconds, but the best that I could snap with the camera was this GPS picture which corresponds to an overall accuracy of 13 m.
All that I can say is that the Confluence must lie somewhere in the vicinity of the western end of the glade. It will be very difficult to trace down this one more exactly, as even in winter the spruces will not have lost their foliage, so tracking down this Confluence in another season will not be a way out to get a better GPS reception. I'm sorry to say, but this Confluence is one of the most uninspiring ones of all those that I ever visited - nothing of a "confluence feeling" materialized here. The only thing that stays positively in my memory will be the abundance of all kinds of mushrooms in this forest at this time of year.
I continued my way towards Bochum and after my lecture, returned home at three o'clock in the night.