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    Re: Latitude by Lunar Distance
    From: Frank Reed CT
    Date: 2006 Nov 12, 00:21 EST
    Wolfgang, you wrote:
    "I never thought that re-inventing the wheel in celestial navigation was one of the goals of this group."
     
    Wolfgang, there are many goals for this group. I would say each member sees it in a slightly different way. But certainly "discussing interesting concepts in celestial navigation" is one of the goals of the group whether someone thought of it a hundred years ago or not. If you personally do not find the concept that you can 'get a positional fix from measuring lunar distances at known GMT without measuring any altitudes' interesting, well, that's a personal matter of taste, right? It is definitely a completely novel concept for anyone I've discussed it with including quite a number of people with very deep knowledge of celestial navigation. The fact that someone has thought of and written about something similar, though apparently a little off the mark, almost a hundred years ago is hardly surprising. What is surprising, amazing, astounding (!), is that you chanced upon such an article less than sixty days after I first mentioned it on the list. It's an entertaining coincidence.
     
    And you wrote:
    "But if - as you (no capitals) say - the criterion is that a concept is novel "to this group", well, the concept of finding one's position by astronomical observations certainly is a new concept for a group of 2nd graders; your grade of novelty is obviously dependent on the group of reference you choose."
     
    You dodged the question there , I think: was this concept new to you yourself? [capital letters seem to bother you --I apologize for that-- so I use the phrase "you yourself" for emphasis instead of "YOU" which I used previously] Did you, Wolfgang, know previous to my posts on the subject that you could get a positional fix, in longitude and latitude, by doing two accurate lunar distance observations? Did you know that it was possible to get a celestial fix without measuring altitudes? Have you seen this idea outlined anywhere before your recent accidental discovery in an old journal?? Has anyone else, for that matter?
     
    And you wrote:
    "What I want to say by that is this: in a group like NavList, where in my opinion a couple of discussions were way above the level of professional discussion in the heyday of celestial navigation (maybe owing to advanced tools of computation) , I would not expect that someone tosses in an idea as "new" without at least a small reservation that it might not be so new after all - which you now admit ("probably ten times, too"). "
     
    I did not claim it as "new". I think that's the problem here. You're perhaps a little annoyed at an offense that you only imagined that I committed. And please, don't start in on some semantic debate about how some words in some post might be taken to imply something if you spin them just the right way... I did not claim that this method was completely new to the world of celestial navigation.  I do still think that it is new (in the ordinary sense of the word --that they've never heard of it before) to the vast majority, let's say more than 99.9%, of the people alive today who are still proficient in celestial navigation or interested in celestial navigation in some other way (admittedly, a rapidly dwindling group).
     
    And you wrote:
    "Finally about my proficiency at taking and working out lunars that you made a subject of:"
     
    I've never "made a subject of" your proficiency.
     
    You concluded:
    "Which is to say: I am interested in the history of navigation for the cultural and scientific aspects of this subject. "
     
    Which, as you should know by now, is also my primary interest. Nonetheless, I also enjoy messing around with sextants, and I enjoy talking with people about sextants. I do think that one gets a much better understanding of the historical process by experimenting with the instruments of the trade.
     
    -FER
    42.0N 87.7W, or 41.4N 72.1W.
    www.HistoricalAtlas.com/lunars

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