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    Re: Polynesian navigation
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2009 Jun 6, 16:15 -0700

    Wolfgang wrote:
    "Even Ben Finney's navigator Nainoa Thompson of Hokule'a fame used latitude 
    methods only after he had taught himself navigation reading astronomy books 
    and taking an astronomy course at his university."
    That makes a lot of sense. And of course, Polynesian men sailed on European 
    and American vessels in the Pacific right from the beginning. They were 
    frequent crew members on whaling vessels in the early 19th century. Those 
    crewmen were exposed to scientific (Western) navigation methods from an early 
    date. It would be difficult to identify "pure" Polynesian navigational 
    And wrote:
    "In other words: latitude is no useful or even reasonable concept in 
    traditional Polynesian understanding of the world. But it hasn't been useful 
    in Western civilization for a long time either. Only in the Renaissance did 
    measuring the stars find a practical use. Portolan chart which had been 
    around for at least 200 years only showed latitude scales after 1500. "
    I don't think a clear understanding of latitude is required to use the 
    meridian altitudes of stars. Anyone who travelled north-south distances 
    greater than a few hundred miles would notice that the stars change their 
    maximum altitudes --if they pay attention to the stars at all. It wouldn't 
    even be necessary to know that the change in altitude is proportional to 
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