A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2016 Jul 7, 15:47 -0700
Rommel emailed the creator of the video lessons and got this reply:
"The astrophysicists at the Naval observatory call it astronavigation, that's why we went with that. Cheers! Dave"
And then concluded, "case closed".
Yeah, but not really... All this tells us is what this one individual, Dave Caudel, believes. I trust that he's being truthful --relating what he actually believes-- but that doesn't mean that it's actually true.
How can we test objectively? The Internet provides some tools. You can do a site-specific search at the USNO web site and find out just how often they use various phrases. Go to Google, put the phrase in quotes, then enter the site after. See the attached image if that doesn't make sense. Here are some results:
- "celestial navigation": 89 hits, including some pages popular with NavList members.
- "cel nav": 1 hit, as a shorthand in a PowerPoint presentation.
- "nautical astronomy": 2 hits, both from a copy of the first edition of Bowditch (1802)
- "astronomical navigation": 0.
- "astro-navigation": 1 hit, from the title of meeting held in London in 2012. Note that this meeting is referenced in a paper from 2013 entitled The Future of Celestial Navigation: A British Viewpoint.
- "astro-nav": 1 hit, but apparently not from content; appears to be a URL (web page address).
- "celnav": 2hits, but apparently, as above, not content; part of a URL.
- "astronav" and "astronavigation": 4 hits, all referencing a "Celestial Navigation Online Course" (N.B. here explicitly called "celestial navigation") created by "author(s): D. Caudel & S. Stewart". D. Caudel here is apparently the very same Dave who answered Rommel's email and S. Stewart is his doctoral thesis advisor (who works both at Vanderbilt and at the US Naval Observatory).
So there you have it. There are few USNO Internet resources that call the subject anything but celestial navigation except when referring to the historical topic (over 200 years ago in this case), or referencing a meeting held in London, or specifically describing the very same online course that started this. In summary, no, the professionals at the Naval Observatory do not call the subject astronavigation or astronav ...at least not in their public resources. Caudel and Stewart's use of the expressions AstroNav and AstroNavigation to describe their online course remains anomalous and seems guaranteed to damage the course's indexing by Internet search engines.
Conanicut Island USA