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    Re: The "big" sextant manufactures
    From: Ken Gebhart
    Date: 2007 Oct 29, 21:52 -0500

    On Oct 29, 2007, at 7:34 PM, Robert Eno wrote:

    Greg is correct. Perhaps I need to re-visit my comments. As a strong proponent of astro-nav, my hope is that it does not fade into oblivion and end up as a quirky hobby for backyard navigators and mathematicians. At best, it will serve as a back up system. At worst, well...for the most part, people want the easy way out and short cuts. Time will tell if the sextant will survive.

    I would like to state from my perspective that celestial navigation is surprising healthy today, and not as a hobby, and not as a back-up, but as a "cool" thing to do.  For the same reason people want to sail (it's not quick, and it's not cheap), they seem eager to adopt celestial into their list of things they want to do and understand.  Perhaps it is self-reliance.  I honestly expect (but am by no means sure) that celestial will survive for a long time.
    Even at that, I wonder can we realistically expect  that any further advances and design improvements will be made to the sextant when the market may not be large enough to support such R&D?  I think not. And that is a pity. I often wonder what sextants would look like today if GPS had not come along and more or less rendered it to a back up position fixing system?
    There have been no advances because there has been no real competition in the last 20 years except on price.  Some advances have increased efficiency or in other ways have lowered the cost of manufacturing. But those that haven't are destined to be tabled for a while.  The price competition extends not only among metal sextants but also between metal and plastic sextants.  Astra prices will increase 12% in 2 months due to Chinese economics.  And that will be a boon for Davis Instruments.

    Ken Gebhart
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Greg R.
    Sent: Monday, October 29, 2007 12:34 PM
    Subject: [NavList 3697] Re: The "big" sextant manufactures

    > GPS has pretty much rendered sextants obsolete.
    Some of us would probably (respectfully) disagree with that characterization, and re-word it to read "GPS has pretty much rendered sextants into a backup role".  Maybe not the primary means of navigation any more, but still important for that day when the odds break against you and the electronic wonders decide to pack it up for the day (or the duration).
    And if nothing else, I like to think that whenever Murphy finds someone who's well-prepared and has thought out the eventualities/possibilities he goes looking for another less-fortunate victim to torment...  ;-)

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