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    Sextant sessions at Beavertail
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2012 Jul 21, 17:35 -0700

    A reminder here at the top (a few details below), there's a nice Sunday afternoon sextant practice/sight taking opportunity tomorrow afternoon, July 22, at Beavertail State Park here in Rhode Island from 4pm-6pm. The weather looks promising. Both the Sun and Moon will be in the sky again so we can try for lunars as well as standard two-body fixes.

    Last Saturday, several NavList members of long-standing and also one of my students from a recent class at Mystic Seaport made it to Beavertail Point for sextant sights. We were nearly clouded out though we did get a handful of challenging Sun altitudes. Shades were not required even with the Sun high in the sky! That should give you an idea how close to overcast we were. Nonetheless and despite the high humidity, we had a great time. I demonstrated checking index correction with a spotting scope, and I talked about my method for testing arc error. Joel Silverberg brought along a Davis sextant which turned out to be very difficult to check for index error using this method. A simple cardboard shade around the sighting tube I think would have solved that problem. Robin Stuart brought along his motion-stabilized binoculars which some of us tried out. Now I want one! Herbert Prinz supplied backup batteries. :) Mostly though, since there were so few gaps in the clouds, it was just a great opportunity to talk about celestial navigation and related issues. And Amy R. got a chance to shoot some horizontal sextant angles between buoys at the mouth of Narragansett Bay. Not lunars, but at least the sextant is sideways! After sights, most of us went out for a nice seafood lunch here on the island. HP and I went on to the "Windmill Day" festivities and continued our conversations late into the afternoon. Great fun all around!

    While tomorrow, Sunday, July 22, is the last of these "sextant days" that I have scheduled so far, I do intend to announce a few more dates soon. I feel there's enough interest and entertainment value as well as educational value to do this sort of event once a month or so as long as the warm weather is with us. You're all invited to join me again tomorrow at Beavertail Point from 4pm-6pm. Since I just posted details a week ago, I will refer you to the directions here:

    Bring your sextants if you have them. Tomorrow for variety, I will be bringing along my 1890s vernier sextant which you can use to test your eyesight. I will also have an excellent Plath sextant from Mystic Seaport's classroom collection which you can try. And if anyone wants to stick around for the evening, you can join me for dinner and conversation, too. That doesn't mean I'm buying. :)


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