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    Re: Longitude by calculator -theodolite
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2013 Jul 5, 13:05 -0700

    G Becker wrote:
    "I can hardly speak for all surveyors, but I have never witnessed anyone use it in the field."

    This is what I have found, too, in conversations with professional surveyors. There are plenty who take an interest in astronomical surveying, but it's completely obsolete in practice. And unlike the case of sea-going celestial navigation, there are very few "amateur" or enthusiast surveyors out there.

    This conversation is analogous to the debates you can find over lunars in late 19th century letters to the editor in the "Nautical Magazine" and similar journals. The vast majority of practicing navigators knew that lunars were dead and buried, though there were certainly enthusiasts who did them for challenge or pleasure (and they're no different from us in the 21st century who do lunars for similar reasons), or they may have done lunars because they had idiosyncratic, even pig-headed, "philosophies" on the subject. Yet a great many navigators were forced to learn lunars in navigation school, and some commentators said that this was all the proof that was needed: if it's taught in school, then it still must be practical. This is where the "history of navigation" and the "history of navigation education" diverge. The mere fact something is "in the books" or "in the classroom" doesn't tell us much of anything about its actual use by practitioners of the craft in the real world. Is astronomical surveying today anything more than a classroom exercise? One big difference compared to the historical "lunars" analogy would be that lunars were used to torture students in the late 19th century (and I can't imagine anyone doing that with traditional astronomical surveying today!). Instructors in the late 19th century focused on arcane details that were never even important when lunars were part of practical navigation. They made lunars exceedingly difficult, and they became a "rite of passage" for those seeking certain masters licenses in navigation.


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