I am becoming somewhat discouraged with celestial
Randall M. has done amazing things with his artificial
horizon. I have not been able to
get similar results. I have a good
mirror horizon now, thanks to some material aid from Bill Morris, but I find it
of limited utility. I tried it
during the day so that I could check it against the Davis. After some fiddling, I did get results
that matched what I was getting with the Davis. I would note that the Davis has shades and my mirror horizon
does not, which makes the latter much less pleasant to use for sun sights. But that is no issue. I didn't build the mirror horizon for
sun sights. The Davis does just
fine for those.
But I was looking forward to shooting Jupiter and Venus,
which are wonderfully dependable this time of year. But what I found is that Jupiter is mostly well above 60
degrees and Venus under 20. That
means Jupiter is beyond the range of the sextant and Venus is so low as to be
all but impossible to find in the mirror. Though I used an optical quality mirror, stars are
somewhat splattered. Is my sextant
scope responsible for that, or the mirror or the atmosphere. This makes accuracy impossible.
So I started going to the ocean front. But there I find that even when the sky
is clear where I am, the ocean
horizon is always obscured by a continuous cloud bank, probably over the Gulf
Stream (I am looking East). It
makes finding the horizon an iffy affair.
Is there anything to be done about that?
So here I am with a pretty messy set of observations. On the plus side I am getting
pretty comfortable with the mathematics.
But even that little victory turns to ashes for me when I see the new
Tintin movie. Captain Haddock
appears not to need an almanac or a calculator or even to actually look at the
angle indicated on the arc to be able to determine his position instantly using a sextant
in a moving automobile. And with an accuracy equal to my gps. How does he do that?
Anyway, I've got the paper and pencil part of this down
pretty well, but the physical part of actually making obsevations is still
sketchy. Are there any
improvements in my equipment that would help with this problem or do I just
have to keep at it until I find the knack?
Dr. Patrick Goold
Department of Philosophy
Virginia Wesleyan College
Norfolk, VA 23502
757 455 3357