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    Re: Astro Compass History /Sun Compasses
    From: Brian Whatcott
    Date: 2002 Oct 29, 18:48 -0600

    [posting originally rejected as a duplicate post -
    subject & last line changed]
    Robert is posting from the far Northern Canada area of Nunuvet
    I was surprised to find, when he took pity on a novice user of
    the Mark 2 and mailed me a CD copy of the User handbook -
    for which I am truly grateful.
    At his urging, I offer this URL (below) which points to an interesting
    informal history of some sun-compasses, which stretch back
    a little further than I expected.
    Brian W
    A bilingual history of sun compasses:
    At 05:46 PM 10/29/02, Robert Eno wrote:
    >Greetings List,
    >I did some digging about this question which came up about one month ago.
    >I got an answer of sorts, though not a totally satisfactory answer.
    >My acquaintance is an authority on Arctic air navigation because he was a
    >pioneer in this field in the 1940's and 1950's. Here's what he had to say:
    >The first appearance of a "sun compass" (the forerunner to the astro
    >compass), occurred in 1917 when the American patent was issued for a
    >transparent sundial to be mounted in the wing above the pilot.  It required
    >further development and appeared to have been dropped by the designer.
    >With an interest in polar flying, and attendant problems of using the
    >magnetic compass near the magnetic pole, attention was directed towards
    >perfecting sun compasses incorporating a clock running on solar time.  In
    >the mid 1920's Albert Bumstead, of the National Geographic Society, devised
    >one for Byrd's use on his northern flights in 1925.  At the same time,
    >Goerz, a German firm, developed a similar compass for use by Amundsen and
    >Ellesworth in the arctic in 1925.  Throughout the 1920's and 1930's, up to
    >W.W.11, one or the other of the sun compasses was used on high latitude
    >By W.W.11, the astro compass, a derivative of the sun compass, was in use
    >and became quite popular as aircraft heading could be determined from any
    >celestial body whose position could be computed from an almanac.
    >The design of the astro compass appeared to have not changed to any degree
    >during W.W.11 and after.  The American and British produced compasses, as
    >far as I remember, were  identical.  For some reason unknown to me the
    >British compass was referred to as RAF Astro Compass MK 11. I suspect the
    >initial patents were American as they were involved in more  long range
    >flying just prior to the war than the British.
    >So there you have it gentlemen (and ladies).
    >I will keep the list posted on any additional information that I manage to
    >dig up. Of course this does not mean the rest of you should be sitting by
    >waiting for my pronouncements. I would certainly welcome any additional
    >information that might be out there.
    Brian Whatcott
       Altus OK                      Eureka!

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