A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2020 Mar 24, 20:36 -0700
Ed, I don't list Mars and Saturn among the "Bright Stars" in the app because they're usually not that bright, and really you could live without them for your entire navigating life except in that period of a couple of months, recurring every 26 months, when Mars is at opposition and nice and bright. Look for Mars and Saturn under the "All Stars" list.
Note that my "Bright Stars" list is variable to some extent and is not defined by an absolute cutoff in visual magnitude. It's a "curated" list, which is a way of saying a human being with taste (yours truly) made some choices and not just a blind algorithm (unless that human taste has been previously distilled into an algorithm, but that's a whole 'nother problem!). I made my selection of stars that I considered bright enough and worth worrying about for practical navigation. If you know those, you're all set.
Similarly the list of "All Stars" was originally a curated list assembled by the editors of the British Abridged Nautical Almanac and the similar American Nautical Almanac in the mid-1950s a few years before they were merged finally in 1958. That list of 57 stars, plus Polaris listed separately, that we count as the proper navigation stars is fairly arbitrary when you get down to the fainter stars. And why 57? Because that's what would fit easily on the page in a readable font (among other reasons).