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    Re: Questions about Celestial Navigation
    From: Brad Morris
    Date: 2018 Sep 10, 23:01 -0400
    Hello Meg 

    Your questions, answered:

     "How has our knowledge of the Polynesian Celestial Navigation system helped to develop modern Star based navigation"

    Not at all.  CN was developed completely independently of the Polynesian system.  Cook arrived in Polynesia with chronometers, accurate sextants, the necessary almanac information and the ingrained discipline needed to navigate, by the stars, completely around the world.  Since that time, whilst we have altered the equations and practices of how the data is manipulated, the Polynesian system has not contributed towards those changes. 

    Please try to answer these in as much detail as you can:

    1. How popular is celestial navigation?

    Based upon my experiences in public, holding a sextant, I would say that the public in general hasn't much knowledge.  Popular would be a strange term to apply to an unknown art. 

    2. How trustworthy is Celestial navigation as a main type of navigating?

    100% reliable.  The marine community relied upon it exclusively for centuries.  The community moved to GPS based navigation when it became available, as GPS provides better data.  


    3. What type of technology is used in Celestial Navigation?

    Precision machining, proving accurate sextant centering. Circle dividing, providing arc and vernier scales.  Astronomy, providing the motion of the heavens, reduced to tabular form.  Physics, providing understanding of  the refraction of light as it moves through the atmosphere.  Mathematics, to provide useful equations which reduce the observed angles to a position.  Cartography, providing the locations of important ports and the corresponding coastline.  The list continues...


    4. What type of people are involved with Celestial Navigation?

    Currently, there is the boating/yachting community thinking that CN is a backup to GPS (it is not!). There are folks who used to practice CN and are now trying to preserve a vanishing art.  There are mathematicians, engineers and others from the STEM community who are drawn to it.  The military has, in general moved away from CN, although there are some signs the US Navy may resume some facets.


    5. Currently, how much do we as a population know about Celestial navigation?

    Of the ~7 billion people on the planet, I would estimate that the number of folks alive today who 'know' CN is far less than 100,000, or ~14 persons in a million.  All of these numbers are a total WAG.  That's American slang for "Wild A$$ed Guess".


    6. How accurate is this knowledge?

    Depends on what your question implies.  If we are talking about using star based observations to fix a position then it's pretty good.  Of the folks mentioned above, they can use the information and CN to find a position.  If, however, the accuracy of the knowledge is a measure of the deeper understanding and basis for the how and why of those equations, I would suggest far fewer are "accurate", myself included in the not accurate group.  One cannot know everything, and to be fully conversant with all the disciplines, equations and knowledge is rare indeed.  Many noted CN authors are right here on NavList, and there are contentious arguments, begging the question indeed.


    7. What sort of techniques are used in celestial navigation?

    Too many to mention.  There are entire books devoted to this subject 


    8. Do you know of any techniques that were developed from the Polynesians?

    If you mean, what CN techniques were developed from the Polynesians, then this is easy.  No western CN techniques were incorporated from the Polynesians.  None.  The two systems are independent of each other.


    9. How much to you know about Polynesian celestial navigation?

    Some.  I believe it has to do with reading currents and predominant wave patterns to produce a system of piloting between islands.  It utterly fails when applied to global navigation, as the patterns are only local in nature.  

    The opinions of others may vary.  My answers are direct from the peanut gallery and represent only my understanding at this time.  Others may provide information which contradicts my presentation.  They may be right!

    Brad


    On Mon, Sep 10, 2018, 9:02 PM Frank Reed <NoReply_FrankReed@fer3.com> wrote:

    Meg Wilson, a student in Australia, is working on a thesis project regarding Polynesian celestial navigation and its connection to modern celestial navigation. I agreed to post her message and questions: 

    I am contacting you because I am currently completing stage 2 research project. My research question is: "How has our knowledge of the Polynesian Celestial Navigation system helped to develop modern Star based navigation"

    Please try to answer these in as much detail as you can:

    1. How popular is celestial navigation?
    2. How trustworthy is Celestial navigation as a main type of navigating?
    3. What type of technology is used in Celestial Navigation?
    4. What type of people are involved with Celestial Navigation?
    5. Currently, how much do we as a population know about Celestial navigation?
    6. How accurate is this knowledge?
    7. What sort of techniques are used in celestial navigation?
    8. Do you know of any techniques that were developed from the Polynesians?
    9. How much to you know about Polynesian celestial navigation?

    Meg Wilson

    I promised Ms. Wilson that these questions would undoubtedly lead to interesting replies and discussions among NavList members. Don't worry about her exact meaning or intent on a specific question. Use the questions as a jumping-off point, an opportunity to explore the topic. And of course there's no need to answer all of them immediately. Enjoy!

    For now, please post public NavList replies only (reply-by-email on this message would only reach me).

    Frank Reed

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