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    Re: AstroNav Course
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2016 Jul 5, 16:24 -0700

    Tom Sult asked:

    Why not the more conventional CelNav?

    I try to avoid saying "cel nav", but I do write CN in short messages. Our normal name for the subject, celestial navigation, is relatively local in both time and space. The name only became popular in the 1920s. I attribute this to the rise of aerial navigation for which the prior term, nautical astronomy, wasn't quite right. The name celestial navigation is primarily used in the USA. In the UK, the subject is commonly called astro navigation or just astro. In most other western languages, it's some variant of astronomical navigation. A few random examples (from Wikipedia):

    • Catalan: Navegació astronòmica
    • German: Astronomische Navigation
    • Spanish: Navegación astronómica
    • Estonian: Astronavigatsioon
    • French: Navigation Astronomique
    • Italian: Navigazione Astronomica
    • Greek: Αστρονομική ναυτιλία (Astronomiki Nautilia)
    • Polish: Astronawigacja
    • Portuguese: Navegação astronómica
    • Swedish: Astronomisk navigation

    As you can see, astronomical navigation is the overwhelming favorite. It's certainly apt, and if it weren't for history, I would suggest it as the name to use in American English today (too late for that!). Although celestial navigation has a certain ring to it, in some ways it's too ring-y and sounds a bit ethereal, a bit cosmic, or spiritual. Indeed, over the years I have encountered quite a few people who hear the phrase "celestial navigation" and think that it has something to do with cosmic contemplation. 

    Frank Reed

       
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