# NavList:

## A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding

### Compose Your Message

Message:αβγ
Message:abc
 Add Images & Files Posting Code: Name: Email:
Re: Latitude and Longitude by "Noon Sun"
From: Frank Reed CT
Date: 2005 Jun 6, 22:49 EDT

George H wrote:
"It certainly does. It extends the Noon sight to a  protracted series of 9 to
13 observations extending over 40 to 60 minutes  around noon. Can this still
be described as "a noon-sight"? "

It can  easily be as few as five or six sights. Whether you call it "noon
anything" is  up to you. But clearly this method is only a minor extension of
what one does  for a normal noon latitude sight. And the beginners I've explained
it to seem to  find no particular difficulty with this description. That is,
they "see it" as a  noon sight.

And:
"Frank's proposal, though the best way to do the job  of finding longitude
around noon, is quite a protracted operation. On how  many lightly crewed
small craft can a crew member be spared for a period of  40 to 60 minutes
around noon each day while he takes such a series of shots  at 5-minute
intervals?"

No, it is NOT a protracted operation. There is  no requirement that the
sights be taken every 5 minutes like clockwork. Every  "five or ten" as time (and
interest!) permit. As for the suggestion that someone  has to give up 40 or 60
minutes of their day, gimme a break. It takes about a  minute to take and
record each sight. You could easily make --and eat-- lunch  during that time
taking a break every five or ten minutes for a quick sun  sight.

And:
"There may be some interesting implications in what Frank  is saying here.
With this method, he is teaching a way of finding lat and  long that is only
available if the Sun happens to shine around the moment of  noon. That's the
position navigators were in prior to Sumner, when if they  lost their noon
(or near-noon) observation, both lat and long were  unavailable until the
next sunny noon."

First, this is inaccurate  historically. Sumner's discovery was considered an
"exotic" sight method for  decades. It was rarely used in practice. Well into
the twentieth century, many  vessels were navigated by traditional noon
latitude and afternoon/morning time  sight.  But back to your main point -- yes, of
course, this method is  limited to those days when it is clear or partly
cloudy around noon. But so  what? Celestial navigation is NOT a primary method of

And:
"So I ask; is he also teaching intercept methods to those same  students?
Perhaps (though I hope not), at Frank's institution, the revolution  in
navigation, which occurred with Sumner and Saint-Hilaire, has already  been

Let me clarify first that I am not formally  affiliated with any
"institution" at this time, and I have only informally  taught the little method I've
described. I have informal connections with Mystic  Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut
(and have been employed there on and off in the  past), and I do occasional
programs there. But I can tell you exactly what is  taught there for celestial.
There is a standard 8 to 10-week course on celestial  navigation using H.O.
229 with Sue Howell's Practical Celestial Navigation as  the course book (this
book was written by Sue based on her direct experience  with these classes in
the 1970s). There is also a one-afternoon class on  latitude by noon sun,
which will perhaps be extended soon with the method for  longitude I've described
if we can hone it down to short enough instructions. Of  those two classes,
the noon sun afternoon fills up with eight or ten students  once every four
months or so. Presently, the full length class draws rarely more  than two or
three students once a year. Twenty-five years ago, the full  length celestial
class filled to capacity three or four times a year.  People are still genuinely
interested in celestial navigation, but since it is  not a primary method of
navigation today, they are much less likely to set aside  the time and effort
required for a full length course. Unless, of course, they  are hard-core
enthusiasts like most of the people on this  list.

And:
"Does he teach how a position line can be obtained from any  altitude of any
celestial body, at any time, all in exactly the same way,  from an assumed
position?"

Personally, I am willing to teach whatever  the market will bear.

And:
"If all that has been lost (and I hope  it
hasn't), it would be a very crippled 19th-century navigator that  would
emerge from the course."

Just to be clear,the method I have  described for getting lat and lon by noon
sun was NOT used in the 19th century.  It is a modern method. Short, easy to
teach, easy to learn, easy to RE-learn in  one sitting, and requiring no
special tables beyond four or five pages of basic  almanac data which would be
valid for decades. It is not a cheat. It is not  "fake" celestial navigation. It
does have some limitations, as do all methods of  celestial navigation.

As for your use of the words "crippled" and "poor" and so on, your are
engaging in shameless exaggerration.

And:
"I ask nav-L members if they  would be happy to cross on ocean, without GPS,
with a "navigator" who had  learned his craft in that way, and was unable to
handle any other  observations than those of the Sun at noon."

Without GPS?? If my GPS  fails, I certainly hope that someone onboard has had
the common sense to bring a  handheld unit. NO ONE is dependent upon
celestial navigation except for their  own amusement (=challenge, enthusiasm,
pleasure, etc.).

-FER
42.0N  87.7W, or 41.4N 72.1W.
www.HistoricalAtlas.com/lunars

Browse Files

Drop Files

### Join NavList

 Name: (please, no nicknames or handles) Email:
 Do you want to receive all group messages by email? Yes No
You can also join by posting. Your first on-topic post automatically makes you a member.

### Posting Code

Enter the email address associated with your NavList messages. Your posting code will be emailed to you immediately.
 Email:

### Email Settings

 Posting Code:

### Custom Index

 Subject: Author: Start date: (yyyymm dd) End date: (yyyymm dd)