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    Re: Personal Experiences Learning CelNav?
    From: Lu Abel
    Date: 2007 Sep 17, 13:12 -0700

    I think the ease of learning celestial nav depends a lot on several
    important things:
    1.  One's own math skills
    2.  The skill of one's instructor (whether it be a person or book)
    3.  Reduction sheets, reduction methods, etc.
    My early education in celestial was through the United States Power
    Squadrons.  They have two really good courses in celestial.  Before
    other USPS members chime in, they're recently changed the courses.  The
    beginning course used to take one through sun, moon, planet, and star
    sights; the more advanced course covered three-body sights, Polaris
    shots, and alternate reduction methods.  Making the course more
    reflective of the way long-distance recreational sailors navigate afloat
    today, the beginning course now requires only sun sights, the advanced
    course will pick up moon, planet, and stars.  I don't know if three-body
    and Polaris will even be part of the course, but there is talk of having
    a super-advanced course that would pick up any of the items bumped.
    I'm an engineer by education, so the math didn't faze me.   Actually, I
    learned using HO229, so math really wasn't necessary.   But then I
    learned of the trig formulae for sight reduction and wrote a program to
    check my reductions using them.
    I was blessed to have a really great instructor, he knew celestial
    inside and out.   So any questions or confusion were dealt with expertly
    and not allowed to fester.  I will say that learning from a good
    instructor beats learning from just a book -- books don't answer
    questions, books don't sense confusion.
    One thing that I loved is that my instructor didn't follow the order of
    the lessons in the text.  Instead he started with sextant basics --
    learning to read the arc, drum, and vernier of the sextant, and
    measuring index error.   As soon as he did that, he took the class out
    to take their first shots.  He had some experienced help along to help
    us reduce our sights.  I can't tell you how thrilled I was to take my
    sextant reading, reduce it, and find that my LOP was only 1.5 miles from
    my known geographical position.  Wow, this stuff really works!!  That
    made me super-motivated to study hard and stick with the material...
    USPS also has a great sight reduction sheet that leads you through the
    whole process step-by-step.   Just fill in the blanks.  It also includes
    things like meridian diagrams, which are a great way to catch gross
    errors like having the body on the wrong side of your local meridian.
    Again, a lot easier than inventing one's own or, worse, trying to reduce
    a sight without a fill-in-the-blanks form to help keep everything straight.
    I'm not intending this as a commercial for USPS, but I certainly think
    they provide one of the best ways to learn celestial.  Yes, one can
    learn it out of a book alone -- but having an experienced instructor
    helping you makes it a whole lot easier.
    So, whether it was my engineering background or, more likely, a good
    instructor, I never had the feeling of "my head is going to explode."
    In fact, I think -- and try to tell other people -- that celestial is
    really not all that hard, except for being obfuscated by arcane
    terminology -- declination instead of latitude, GHA instead of
    longitude, etc, etc.
    Lu Abel
    Greg R. wrote:
    > I'm curious to know what your own individual experiences were while
    > learning how to do CelNav - was it fairly easy to master, challenging
    > (but eventually it made sense and you caught on), difficult the entire
    > way, or what exactly?
    > For myself, working my way through all the theory and practice the first
    > time I felt like my head was going to explode several times - but
    > eventually the little "Aha!" light bulb came on and it all magically
    > fell into place. Was that experience pretty much typical of the rest of
    > the people on the list?
    > --
    > Thanks,
    > GregR
    > >
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