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    Lunars class
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2014 May 15, 09:21 -0700

    Navigation: LUNARS Class May 24-25

    This is a copy of an email invite I sent out for a class. It won't be relevant to most of you outside the area, but I thought you might be interested in reading...

    Next weekend, May 24-25, 2014, I will be teaching a class in "lunars" or "longitude by lunar distance observations" at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut. We'll be learning about both the history and the actual practice of lunars today. In "lunars" the Moon was used as a great natural chronometer, a clock in the sky, that could be read by sextant observations to determine time. Until chronometers became widely available at reasonable prices, lunars were an important component of celestial navigation. Lunars were used regularly in the 1840s on the first voyage of the whaleship Charles W. Morgan (the centerpiece of Mystic Seaport's collection, now preparing for a summer tour of New England ports dubbed the "38th Voyage" by Mystic Seaport). Lunars were also widely used by most of the great explorers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries including James Cook on his exploration voyages in the Pacific and William Bligh on HMS Bounty. We'll learn how they and other navigators, including Nathaniel Bowditch, the famous American navigator and mathematician, used lunars to sail the oceans.

    Lunars are not dead. We'll really be looking at modern usage of lunars, including their surprising use aboard the Skylab space station in the 1970s. Lunars are great fun, and modern navigators and celestial navigation enthusiast can learn the finer details of sextant navigation as well as practicing celestial skills when away from the sea (yes, you can shoot lunars from your backyard). By the end of the weekend, you will all have become LUNARIANS (plus a few lunatics!) if you take this class. As the great circum-navigator Joshua Slocum wrote in 1899:
    "The work of the lunarian, though seldom practised in these days of chronometers, is beautifully edifying, and there is nothing in the realm of navigation that lifts one's heart up more in adoration."

    Lunars have been infamous in legend as exceedingly difficult, the mark of a master celestial navigator. You'll learn in this class that this just isn't so. Anyone can learn to shoot and work up lunars, and they were widely used historically. Lunars are easy. But you don't have to tell your friends that... They can still believe that you must be a master navigator if you're a lunarian!

    This is an intermediate level class, and you would benefit from some familiarity with celestial navigation before taking this class. On the other hand, the majority of the material will be comprehensible without specific background in celestial navigation. The class meets May 24-25 10am-4pm both days. Registration for the class is $100 ($90 for members of Mystic Seaport). To register, please phone the reservations desk, usually manned by Rebecca Shea, in Mystic Seaport's Education department: 860.572.5322 (press 1 at the prompt).

    I do hope I'll see you there!

    Frank Reed
    Conanicut Island USA

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