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    Navigator honoured
    From: Peter Fogg
    Date: 2006 Jan 26, 15:56 +1100

    Today, the 26th of January, is Australia Day (akin to the 4th of July in the USA). It is the day Australia Day Honours are handed out, known colloquially as ‘gongs’. Yesterday I learned that a navigator (among other accomplishments) is to be awarded official recognition as part of the festivities, from an email that read in part: GG’s Dept has advised that George will be gonged tomorrow”. And so indeed he will be, confirmed from the official list.


    To be awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) is one:


    Dr George Gordon BENNETT

    For service to surveying and mapping, particularly as an educator and a specialist in the field of celestial navigation and positional astronomy.


    George Bennett is perhaps best known here as the author of ‘The Complete On-Board Celestial Navigator’ although he has also contributed much other work; leading to many papers on navigational matters in various journals, a few published books, and navigational software for calculators and computers. As an example, his name has cropped up here recently during discussions on the effects of refraction, due to earlier work of his on this subject that is still a standard source of reference. He has had a long career as a teacher, being the Professor of the School of Surveying at the University of New South Wales, and in retirement continues to teach coastal and celestial navigation to small groups.


    He is also a practical navigator, having shipped as navigator in Sydney to Hobart ocean races, plus other forays, eg; a practical class in navigation that took students and teacher in a sailing boat from Nouméa in New Caledonia to Sydney in Australia. Along the way one student dropped a sextant, affording an opportunity to show how a technique for the rectification of systematic error could glean acceptable results from that damaged instrument. Only last year he was a member of an expedition to the Tanami Desert in north-western Australia, checking the mapping of a nineteenth century explorer by use of a theodolite.  Other excursions or sabbaticals have been to the Antarctic, to Canada and even to Greenwich; or more particularly to Her Majesty’s Nautical Almanac Office as a visiting scientist.


    I think its entirely appropriate to celebrate our living national treasures while they are around to enjoy it, and particularly appropriate in this case of such a dedicated and patient teacher, apart from being so learned in his field.


    Good on yer, George


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