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    Re: Sight reduction method history
    From: Lu Abel
    Date: 2013 Nov 3, 16:48 -0800
    Thanks, Frank!  

    First of all, I am looking for a very broad-brush history, not details upon details.   Not interested in the percentage of navigators who used Method X vs Method Y at time Z -- just what Cook might have used, what the Royal Navy might have used in the late 1700s or early 1800s, what an American whaler might have used in the 1830s, what a clipper ship might have used in the 1860s, what the Titanic might have used, etc.

    And I'm willing to settle for one nation and/or one group (naval ships or cargo transport ships or passenger ships, etc)

    My motivation is simple:  As I look at the problem of sight reduction, it's simple in nature ("solve a spherical triangle with the following parameters") but devilish in the details (the need for sines and cosines, the need for a series of multiplications, the need for five or so places of accuracy in numbers to give a final answer with any reasonable accuracy, etc).  

    So I'm less interested in a list of methods that existed (eg, HO 209 vs HO 211 vs HO 214 vs HO 229 vs HO 249 for the 20th century) than which ones were common and prevalent.   How, for example, did the masters of the Charles W. Morgan do celestial (if they did it)?  Or the HMS Rose, late of Newport?   Or the USS Constitution?   Or the steel clipper Balclutha in the National Maritime Park in San Francisco?


    From: Frank Reed <FrankReed@HistoricalAtlas.com>
    To: luabel@ymail.com
    Sent: Sunday, November 3, 2013 12:34 PM
    Subject: [NavList] Re: Sight reduction method history

    Lu, you wrote:
    "Can anyone give, in broad-brush terms, a brief history of celestial sight reduction methods used aboard ships from the advent of reasonably accurate timekeeping forward?
    What method (in very general terms) did Captain Cook use? Clipper Ship navigators? The navigator on the Titanic? Navigators of WW II battleships?"
    That sounds like you want a complete history of nautical astronomy!
    There are a few problems here. First, there are lots of mediocre histories on this subject, like the chapter in Bowditch, which is a collection of odds and ends rather than a real history. Second, there are works which appear to be histories of navigation which are really histories of mathematical analyses. Third, navigation is cultural. There are differences by nation and there are differences by economic function.
    I could go on for some paragraphs on my interpretation of what you mean by the "history of sight reduction", but it might turn out you have a very different focus. So could I ask you to elaborate: what are you looking for besides a "complete history"?
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