A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Position-Finding
From: Peter Fogg
Date: 2002 Jun 13, 13:22 +1000
At first sight I thought I had no useful information to offer (and that may still be the case) but can add to the sort of comments recently received. Australia has a population of about 18 million, Sydney the biggest city about 4 million. In Sydney curently I am aware of only 2 classes teaching celestial navigation, of the only one I have personal knowledge of it struggles to remain viable, with class sizes you can count on the fingers of one hand. Try to keep in contact with as many classmates as possible, invite them to join us making observations (even those I don't know personally) and would estimate that a figure of 10% remaining interested and regularly using a sextant would probably be wildly optimistic. There are very few retail outlets selling sextants, they typically may have one on offer. As far as I know Celestaire seems to be the largest and most active company selling sextants and associated materials. Presumably they would know how many they sell, now and in the past, but might prefer keeping such figures to themselves. And that doesn't tell us how many users there are with machines that could have virtually any age. I imagine some people collect or keep them for other reasons than practical ones, just as some people collect expensive camera equipment simply because they appreciate fine instrumentation. Actually I know this is the case. There is a shop here, in the tourist trap, which specializes in old stuff with a marine flavour, presumably for decoration. They have some lovely old sextants there in woeful condition.