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    Celestial Navigation classes: this weekend and next
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2011 Mar 15, 04:05 -0700

    Just a reminder, I am teaching two weekend classes at Mystic Seaport March 19-20 and March 26-27.

    Copying from ReedNavigation.com:

    ** Celestial Navigation: 19th Century Methods
    March 19-20, 2011:
    A class in the history and the actual techniques of celestial navigation as it was practiced aboard American sailing vessels 150 years ago. Students will learn how it was done and how to apply these same methods today. On day one, we'll go over the use and adjustment of the sextant and octant and compare historical instruments with their modern equivalents. We'll cover the classic "Noon Sun" that navigators have used for centuries to determine latitude. On day two, we'll learn the math of the "time sight" which was used to determine longitude from the 19th through the middle of the 20th century. Throughout, we will compare what we're doing with actual logbook entries and calculations in the collections of Mystic Seaport. Weather permitting, students will have opportunities to make actual sextant observations. This is real navigation, not just a class about navigation.

    ** Easy Introductory Celestial Navigation by Noon Sun
    March 26-27, 2011:
    A class in the basic principles of celestial navigation from a modern perspective. We'll learn how to adjust and use sextants available on the market today. Celestial navigation is a nice, traditional backup in an automated world all-too dependent on fallible electronics. On day one, we'll learn how to shoot the Sun at Noon for latitude, and we'll go over the basic principles of the analemma and the sundial. On day two, we'll see how to use sights bracketing the Noon Sun sight to determine longitude, too. Weather permitting, we will do it for real and measure the Sun's altitude around noon (from a nearby shore location) to determine our position. This is real navigation, not just a class about navigation.

    A frequently asked question: "They both sound good - which class should I take?"
    If you're interested in history, old logbooks, and perhaps a bit more interested in mathematical details, too, then sign up for the "19th century methods" class. If you're more practically oriented, more pragmatic, not much interested in historical details, and mostly looking for a good (last resort) backup for your GPS, then sign up for the "introductory noon sun" class. Both will give you real, usable navigational skills and methods. Note that neither of these classes will cover the standardized late 20th century approaches to navigation such as using the tables known as "H.O. 229". If that's what you're looking for, let us know, and maybe we can arrange a class like that sometime soon.

    For more details and to register, visit

    There are still some places left in both classes so it's not too late to sign up today. If you're thinking about driving in, there are many motels right off exit 90 of I-95. Amtrak also makes stops right in Mystic.


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