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Galaxy helm station

The heading is programmed in at the helm control station

Astrogator

Heading could also be changed by manipulating the dial on the ship's astrogator

A heading was a common way to describe the direction of travel of a starship. Headings were programmed in at the ship's helm control using a combination of two 360-degree directions on planes that are at a right angles to one another, separated by the word "mark". (TNG: "Datalore")

The terms heading and course were often used as synonyms. (TNG: "Brothers"; TOS: "The Deadly Years", etc.) Starships traveling at warp speeds usually traveled in a straight line to the destination coordinates. (VOY: "Drive") While sometimes, a course could also be a more elaborate flight path, that included changes in heading and parabolic trajectories. (VOY: "Alice"; Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

A more precise measuring angle system, beyond the 360-degree system, was sometimes used with headings such as 903-mark-6. (TOS: "Day of the Dove"; TAS: "The Practical Joker"; VOY: "Workforce")

Examples of headings

Appendices

See also

Background information

The first use of headings in degrees occurred in Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Balance of Terror". The meaning of headings as two 360-degree angles was established in "Datalore". The system of degrees was further explained in reference books, such as Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual (pgs. 36, 37).

The first 360-degree figure is a direction in an imaginary plane similar to the galactic plane, but between the ship and the center of the galaxy. What ever the location of the ship in the galaxy is, heading 000-mark-0 is always a direct course to the center of the galaxy. Heading 180-mark-0 is a direct heading away from it. A heading from Earth directly to the Beta Quadrant would be 090-mark-0 and further into the Alpha Quadrant 270-mark-0.

As explained in "Datalore", the second 360-degree figure is the elevation angle at a right angle to the previous plane. A heading of 000-mark-90 would be a heading directly upwards away from the plane, where as 000-mark-270 a heading directly downwards.

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