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    Re: Celestial nav course for professional mariners
    From: Brad Morris
    Date: 2017 Apr 4, 12:04 -0400
    Hello Frank

    You wrote
    Scientific calculators are allowed during the exam, and with careful interpretation of questions it's possible to avoid obsolete tables like 229.

    Characterization of HO229 as 'obsolete' must have been a slip of the keyboard, as HO229 was the last set of tables produced by the Hydrographic Office.  If HO229 is obsolete, then by chronology, all other tabular methods which predate HO229 are obsolete as well.

    Gary has HO249 published in 1947.  Further, Gary estimated the first volumes of HO229 were published in 1970, an estimate I think about right.

    Given that tabular methods are obsolete, I assume that means the navigator is expected to use a scientific calculator?  Surely the perils of seawater, electronics and dead batteries would give pause to total reliance on a calculator.  Perhaps your advice of a calculator is just for the exam, which indeed would make sense!  Faster, no interpolation and much more accurate, excepting key entry errors.

    From a chronological standpoint, HO229 preceded the electronic calculator by a scant few years.  The estimated publication date of HO229 is 1970.  The release of Hewlett-Packard's HP-35 is 1972.  I think it likely that the speed and ease of a scientific calculator sounded the death knell for HO229.  Those who learned with HO249 were unlikely to switch to HO229, and much more likely to switch to a calculator.  (Besides the preferences expressed by others).

    The USCG reliance on HO229 matches Dutton Navigation and Piloting for the era.  Dutton, 1972, teaches HO229, not HO249.   Much like any other CN evolution, adoption was to be gradual, yet HO229 had officially supplanted HO249. 

    Brad



    PS. Celestaire offers both HO249 and HO229.






    On Apr 3, 2017 10:52 AM, "Frank Reed" <NoReply_FrankReed@fer3.com> wrote:

    A course on celestial navigation is offered by MITAGS-PMI ... The 10-day class costs $2000.

    This is an exam prep course. You do not learn celestial navigation in classes like this. You pay to learn how to pass the USCG licensing exam. Very similar courses with the same duration and cost are offered by other maritime schools here in New England. The program is bizarre and shockingly antiquated. There are questions that apply to mechanical chronometers. Amusingly, it is possible to pass the exam (though just barely) without getting one single actual celestial fix problem correct. The test problems are all set in the year 1981, and a special edition of the Nautical Almanac exists for this purpose. I posted a cleaned-up pdf of this document back in December here. Zone time is a major focus of the exam. Although the exam is built on the assumption that Pub.229 is the only sight reduction system in existence, there are ways around this ridiculous pretense. Scientific calculators are allowed during the exam, and with careful interpretation of questions it's possible to avoid obsolete tables like 229.

    Frank Reed

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