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    Re: Celestial Navigation Class.
    From: Douglas Denny
    Date: 2010 Jul 9, 03:21 -0700

    Dear Byron you say:

    "Why do I say celestial navigation is too difficult, while teaching that OCS Newport I found that even the college graduates had problems with the concept and the simple add and subtract. (BUT, why can’t a fifth grader learn about the sky and stars?)"

    I am not sure why you say this.

    I have taught a few people astro-navigation, and believe it is very easy provided you teach the Marc St-Hilaire method only; use the simplest sight reduction tables (air tables: here in GB termed AP3270); and keep the astronomical technical detail to a minimum to be able understand the terminology used and the method.
    It can be done in half an hour I reckon with someone reasonably intelligent and interested enough to want to learn. Mostly modern sailors do NOT want to learn about the finer points of astronomy or noon sights and declination change etc... they want a _method_ that works. That's all.

    It is easy for teachers to forget they are intimately aquainted with the subject, know a great deal more than is necessary for a basic method, and that the new terminology alone can put people off if they do not understand what it means in practical terms .. which they don't! Teachers usually try to teach much much more than is necessary for using a simple practical method that _works_ and forgetting these people are not interested in obtaining a commercial sea-master's certificate which includes celestial navigation in all its detail.

    The 'student' only needs to know what GHA and declination are for a sun sight; - SHA and Aries for a star sight for example when using the nautical almanac. Why fill their heads with the Celestial sphere and all its ramifications other than mentioning the concept - unless that is, they _want_ to know more?

    I have always said, and maintain it still, that good, accurate DR navigation especially in dangerous waters like the English Channel is much more difficult than 'simple' astro- navigation where the only ability actually needed is to be able to read, write, add and subtract (Oh yes! - and take a sight with a sextant accurately which is actually the only _real_ skill involved in astro-navigation).

    Douglas Denny.
    Chichester. England.
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