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    Re: The Star of Bethlehem and Navigation
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2009 Jan 5, 17:37 -0800

    Hello Dieter, you wrote:
    "At first, the idea that the magi could have used the Star of Bethlehem for 
    navigation did not make any sense to me."
    
    I agree. It wasn't any form of celestial navigation, even in the most 
    primitive sense. Only an object at low altitude, like a meteor, could 
    uniquely mark a location like a specific town, but no low-altitude phenomena 
    last long enough to fit the description of the Star of B.
    
    And you wrote:
    "what _was_ "navigation" in ancient times?"
    
    Even in recent times (as recently as 150 years ago), navigation has had two 
    meanings. There's the modern meaning of finding and projecting one's position 
    in order to reach a specific destination, and then there's a broader meaning 
    that today would be closer to piloting or even just sailing. So in a 19th 
    century text, if you see a phrase like "our navigational skills were tested 
    on the voyage across the Atlantic," it's possible that it's referring to 
    position-finding (the modern meaning of navigation and the one we're talking 
    about on NavList) but's more likely that "navigational skills" means 
    "seamanship" --the general set of skills that keeps you alive and safe on the 
    voyage.
    
    As for the magi, counting something like "they told us to go to Bethlehem" or 
    "prophecy suggests Bethlehem" as navigation would stretch the modern meaning 
    of navigation to the breaking point.
    
    And:
    "When they departed from Bethlehem, they did not return to Herod 
    but were instructed in a dream to take a different road. Is this a kind of 
    navigation?"
    
    Probably not for this group! :-) As long as there is some connection to 
    celestial navigation and/or issues in positional astronomy, this thread is a 
    reasonable extension of topics we've discussed here before. But navigating by 
    dreams? Whoa there. Let's not.
    
    -FER
    
    
    
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