# NavList:

## A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding

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Practice sights and sextant reading basics
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2013 Apr 4, 08:54 -0700

Lu, regarding checking students' observations (immediately after they've taken them) with a bit of software or the USNO site on an iPad, you wrote:
"What a great way to provide instantaneous feedback to the person about the quality of their sight!"

Yes, it really does help. As early as 2005, I was clearing lunars on my cell phone (NOT a smartphone) with students so they could get instant feedback. Of course, if it's Sun sights, you can just print out a table before you head to your practice location. I do that with lunars, too, though I worry about biasing my observations.

I discovered an interesting problem this past weekend with my "Easy Introductory Celestial" class. I've been teaching people how to read sextants for years, but there's always something new. Many of these students had never used a sextant before (interesting, because nearly all brought sextants to class, some quite expensive, which they had owned for years). The altitude of the Sun around noon was close to 52° 52'. That's confusing, no matter what. But I noticed that several of them were writing down 53 degrees and 52'. The pointer on the index arm was directed nearly at 53, so they just took that as the proper number of degrees. I couldn't even think that way. I suspect it's related to a familiarity with digital readouts. I realize now that I am going to have to include a lesson on reading the sextant like an "exotic analog clock" so that they understand that the index arm pointing just a bit to the right of 53 doesn't mean we should record an angle of 53. It's "just like the hour hand on a clock, and the micrometer is like a minute dial" (I'm hoping that some language like that will help in future classes).

It's always somethin'...

-FER

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