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    Re: Modern celestial navigation: when and why?
    From: Sean C
    Date: 2015 Feb 11, 15:58 -0800

    I recently posted a message about a visit I had with an old friend. He's a Quartermaster in the U.S. Navy and he told me that he uses traditional celestial navigation "all the time". As for why, it seemed to be much more because he was required to rather than out of any personal interest. In fact, when we met a second time, the subject never even came up (sadly).


    But then, why does the U.S. Navy require it? In my humble opinion, it's akin to something like a life boat. One could ask: "What is the practical relevance of a life boat today?", and I believe the answer would be the same as for celestial. It's there "just in case it's needed". The importance you place on it may be proportional to the chance you think you'll need it, or to the number of other options you have available. In terms of the Navy, there aren't many people they can call for help if all of their electronics fail. The average coastal sailor probably has quite a few more options and so, celestial is only a minor curiosity to toy with, maybe. After all, if I were a coastal sailor here in Virginia and my GPS failed out of sight of land, first thing I'd probably do is start sailing west. Eventually I'd hit the U.S. somewhere. Quite literally. ;)


    For non-sailors, the analogy might be a portable battery charger for one's automobile. If your battery dies, what are the chances you can call for help? How remote is the area in which you'll be travelling? Could you walk to safety? Going back to the military example, even U.S. infantry are taught some basic direction finding skills using the stars.


    Beyond that, there is the application of celestial in interpreting historical logs. Perhaps a minor consideration, but one from which much can be learned and applied to all forms of navigation today.


    Just some random thoughts from someone who's never sailed a day in his life. :)

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