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Easy Introductory Celestial Navigation: Latitude and Longitude by Noon Sun

June 15, 2013 - June 16, 2013

This two-day class covers the basic principles of celestial navigation from a modern perspective designed especially for yachtsmen and recreational boaters, but it is also appropriate for anyone interested in a quick introduction to celestial navigation.

Celestial navigation is the ultimate backup when electronics fail and it is a tradition that connects us with maritime history. Students will learn how to adjust and use sextants that are available today. This class covers the classic, time-honored method of finding latitude by the noon sun, as well as finding longitude by observations of the sun before and after noon (including frequently neglected corrections for statistics and the motion of the observer). Weather permitting, students will be able to measure the sun’s altitude around noon (from a nearby shore location) to determine latitude and longitude. This is real navigation, not just a class “about” navigation. Fast and intense, students who complete this weekend class will have the basic celestial navigation skills to cross any ocean using the sun, a sextant, and a few other simple tools.

Requirements: good, basic arithmetic skills, but nothing beyond addition and subtraction. A familiarity with the basic geometry of angles, including degrees and minutes of arc. A familiarity with 24-hour time (16:00 is 4:00 p.m.). A good understanding of latitude and longitude on the globe.

Instructor: Frank Reed