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    Re: GPS versus sextants ?
    From: Peter Fogg
    Date: 2002 Feb 6, 16:53 +1100

    'I think we must consider the sextant to be a pursuit of intellectual exercise 
    and curiousity--not a superior navigational instrument.'
    
    As prudent mariners we try to have back ups for our back up systems. So we 
    have GPS (truly a wonderful machine - an impossible dream come true, thanks 
    to the US Military - ain't life strange) and we have a sextant and if all 
    that fails, along with the rest of our instruments, then our understanding of 
    celestial navigation and, more particularly, the way the celestial bodies 
    move around the
    sky should give us a third tier of navigational imputs. The sun by day and the 
    stars by night will be our compass ESPECIALLY if we know where to expect them 
    (azimuths of setting and rising, for example) because we have regularly been 
    practising our celestial navigation. Similarly at night we can find south by 
    reference to Crux and the Pointers (in the southern hemisphere). Even if we 
    were
    concussed, as Jared mentioned, their relative positions would even remind us 
    which season it was. If we can remember the azimuths of the stars we have 
    been regularly observing, at dawn and dusk, that will give us a rough compass 
    to steer by. I couldn't pretend to be able to navigate by reference to the 
    changing position of a zenith star, or the regular rising and setting of the 
    night sky
    throughout the night, but I know others have done just that. We would still be 
    running a DR plot, even if it was only in our heads, and taking a great 
    interest in everything around us: the track of a bird passing, for example, 
    would be of great interest - in the morning; where is it coming from, in the 
    evening; where is it returning to?
    
    This is what I meant by a difference in attitude, nothing to do with the 
    virtues of one machine over another.
    The pleasure of the pursuit of intellectual curiosity is a bonus.
    
    
    

       
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