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    Re: CELNAV .pdf file
    From: Frank Reed CT
    Date: 2003 Dec 29, 17:03 EST
    Ken Gebhart wrote:
    "I just wanted to lurk, but your statement that it is unnecessary to teach celestial navigation to Coast Guard Officers got my attention."

    Good. Glad you joined in! [before I comment further, I do think they should all learn SOME fraction of cel nav, but a complete method using tables like HO229?? Is that the best approach?]

    And you wrote:
    "First, let me say that I also give lectures (we call them seminars) at six major sailboat shows each year.  Attendance at these free seminars on celestial navigation rivals that of most other seminars given on topics of great interest to sailors.  My greatest attendance ever was a few years ago at Navy Pier (in your Chicago) in February on a Saturday when 200 people made their way to the show for it. I would offer that if your Coast Guard cadets were unhappy, it was because the faculty  did not motivate them properly."

    That's very interesting and matches some of my impressions about the marketplace for cel nav. I think there is a BIG market for very low-cost programs that last 90 minutes or a single afternoon at most. People want a taste of cel nav. It intrigues them. But how much effort are they willing to put into it? The conversion rate from "interested and curious" to "motivated and dedicated" is very low today, because navigators know that it is not as "practical" as it once was. Also, there is a very wide range of expectations about what "learning to navigate using the stars and a sextant" actually means. For many people, this means that they want to learn how to handle a sextant and little more. For others, it means they're interested in all the arcane calculational techniques they can get their hands on. And there's a full spectrum in between those extremes.

    "Secondly, I have found that many teachers in elementary and high schools love teaching celestial positioning as an Earth science project because it integrates geography, history, and math into one subject that is interesting to most students. "

    Yes, I agree. You can teach the most important conceptual aspects of cel nav at an early age. But you surely wouldn't be likely to make them work up their astronomical observations with HO229! At least I don't think you would.

    "By contrast, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy still issues a sextant  (Astra IIIB) to each cadet, that is theirs to keep (or sell on eBay).  "

    Reminds me of the old tale about the physics student who is asked how to find the height of a tall building using a barometer. One suggestion was to walk up to the building's janitor and say "I'll give you this nice new barometer if you tell me how tall this building is". A cel nav variant would be "I'll sell my sextant on e-bay so I can buy a spare GPS receiver". But I think a large fraction of those Merchant Marine students will keep their sextants even if they don't use them right away. And years later, they'll find themselves at one of your afternoon seminars...  :-)

    "Most professions insist that their members are versed in broad underpinnings of historical methods and philosophies related to their careers."

    But you wouldn't spend much time on it if that were the only reason...

    Frank E. Reed
    [X] Mystic, Connecticut
    [ ] Chicago, Illinois
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