A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2016 Aug 8, 13:56 -0700
Rommel, you wrote:
"We should never trust electronics"
But we do trust electronics, each and every day in myriad ways. That's not going to change. I would note that you "trusted" electronics to post this message about never trusting electronics! :)
For any system that we trust, we also need the ability to test it, to verify, to validate its proper operations. Celestial navigation, especially automated, electronic celestial has a place here in the validation of satellite navigation. Trust but verify. And it's not just electronics. It's true of any "black box" (in the colloquial metaphoric sense). It was true of the chronometer in celestial navigation in the 19th and 20th centuries. Trust its displayed output, but verify it... with lunar observations in the early era, with multiple redundant chronometers in the later 19th century, and with radio time signals in the 20th century.
Even manual, sextant-based celestial navigation also has an important role in maintaining and validating the far more error-prone side of the modern electronic navigation solution: the human user. We human beings screw up a lot. We mis-use our electronic systems. We turn off their alarms when they get annoying. We ignore display settings. And sometimes we just think ourselves better than all that electronic mumbo-jumbo and turn it off despite ourselves. A navigator who employs sophisticated electronics and also maintains situational awareness by using celestial to test the navigational product of the electronic system is much less likely to screw up.