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    Re: CELNAV .pdf file
    From: Ken Gebhart
    Date: 2003 Dec 24, 22:27 -0600
    Re: CELNAV .pdf file on 12/24/03 5:16 PM, Frank Reed at FrankReedCT{at}AOL.COM wrote:

    "Celnav is a manual on celestial navigation produced by the US Coast Guard. "

    Interesting.

    I don't think I mentioned this before. I did a series of hour-long planetarium lectures last fall for the navigation students in this year's class from the US Coast Guard Academy which is located in New London, CT. They were NOT enjoying themselves. In a round room, you can hear small talk and whispers very easily. These students were angry that they were being forced by the Academy to learn im-practical celestial navigation. And I sympathized with them. Unless someone (or something) zaps GPS and the other satellite navigation networks, celestial is nearly useless to them. They're still doing a full-blown tables method with HO229. I could understand teaching Noon Sun, and teaching it again and again and again. But these students studying tables-based celestial navigation in 2003 are in the same boat as students who were still being forced to learn how to reduce lunars back in 1903. It's pointless torture.

    But we still had fun, and I even told them about lunars.  :-)

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


    Dammit Frank, I just wanted to lurk, but your statement that it is unnecessary to teach celestial navigation to Coast Guard Officers got my attention.

    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.

    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.

    Lastly, as a Naval Academy graduate myself, I was saddened to learn that they have downplayed celestial in their curriculum in deference to the ³digital bridge² as they call it.  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).  

    Most professions insist that their members are versed in broad underpinnings of historical methods and philosophies related to their careers.  It¹s what distinguishes them from ³trade school graduates².  I cannot imagine a professional naval officer who has not once learned celestial, and who would still not be at least conversant in it.  It simply would not be right.

    Ken Gebhart
       
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