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    USNA and Celestial Navigation
    From: Kevin Redden
    Date: 1999 Oct 23, 6:56 AM

    Geoffrey Kolbe wrote:
    I read recently that the US Naval Academy has now stopped teaching
    Celestial Navigation, much to the relief of the cadets who found this to be
    the hardest subject, along with electrical engineering!
    Two years ago the USNA in Annapolis made a major change in the way they
    teach celestial navigation. Unfortunately, the N.Y. Times incorrectly
    reported that the academy had dropped the teaching of celestial, instead of
    reporting the change in the way it was taught. While the NY Times article
    was picked up and republished all over the country, or course the retraction
    was ignored.
    What really happened is that the academy caught up to modern times with
    their celestial program. They still teach celestial navigation theory, as
    well as how to take sights and how to reduce them. The big change is that
    they now teach how it is practiced at sea today instead of how it was done
    in the '60s. Sight reductions are no longer done with tables, paper and
    pencil (much to the relief of the middies!), but rather by computer! All of
    the tedious paper work, along with the inevitable errors, are gone.
    Celestial navigation is indeed alive and well at the Navel Academy, and it
    has caught up to the '90s.  I was down at the academy just three weeks ago
    discussing this with one of the instructors, so I consider this to have come
    right from the horses mouth!
    For those doubters, an easy, but expensive, way to confirm this is to look
    at the navigation text books used at the academy. "Marine Navigation" third
    edition by Cmdr. Richard Hobbs, (US Naval Institute, ISBN 0-87021-294-X),
    was the old book. It covered sight reductions by HO 229, HO 249, Nautical
    Almanac concise tables (NASR), as well as calculator methods. That 1974
    edition was replaced in 1997 by the fourth edition of the same book, updated
    to cover the new program. It is available for $55.00 from the US Naval
    Institute (410 295-3754).
    Kevin Redden
    Westfield NJ

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