Classes in celestial navigation and related topics

A vernier sextant Chronometer Navigation tables Noon Sun and time sights Shooting lunars Two-body fix Lunars Lunars Geometry Sextant Micrometer

Celestial Navigation Classes: Fall 2014

The Planetarium at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut and are offering several weekend classes in celestial navigation this Fall. Two classes are appropriate for beginners covering real traditional navigational techniques that will enable you to fix your position in latitude and longitude using the Sun and other celestial bodies, a sextant, and simple mathematical techniques. And if you enjoy historical methods, we're also offering a class in "lunars", once considered the ultimate art form in celestial navigation.
A frequently asked question:"They both sound good - which class should I take?"

Of the two introductory classes above, if you're interested in history, old logbooks, and perhaps a bit more interested in mathematical details, too, then sign up for the "19th century methods" class. If you're more practically oriented, more pragmatic, not much interested in historical details, and mostly looking for a good (last resort) backup for your GPS, then sign up for the "modern celestial" class. Both will give you real, usable navigational skills and methods.


12 posted. 16 waiting approval.

Todd Smith wrote: 12/12/2009
Hello Frank,
Do you offer celestial nav courses for sailors?
Frank Reed wrote: 12/15/2009
Yes! Weekend classes this Spring at Mystic Seaport. You can read about them here or on the web page for planetarium courses at the Treworgy Planetarium at Mystic Seaport here: planetarium courses.
a visitor wrote: 5/27/2013
I'm very interested in celestial navigation. I've read a few chapters of an old copy of "Bowditch" from 1938. I think I understand most of it, but I'm hoping you can recommend some other books. Is there some place where I could find older nav techniques? Maybe circa 1865, Civil War era?

Frank Reed wrote: 5/27/2013
Yes, there are now many historical navigation works available on the Internet. You can download most of them as pdf's for convenient offline reading. I maintain a list of them on the NavList message boards: historical navigation resources. You should consider taking our "Celestial Navigation: 19th Century Methods" class. It's an introductory level weekend class where we learn the "Old Navigation" methods.

Frank Reed
Frank Reed wrote: 5/27/2013
I forgot to mention that the NavList message boards are a great place to discuss historical celestial navigation. Please do stop by!

Dr. Russell D. Sampson wrote: 6/22/2013
I took Frank's 19th Century Celestial Navigation class in April 2013 and really enjoyed it. Not only was the class interesting but my fellow classmates were too; a retired skipper of a ballistic missile sub, the son of the fellow who invented GPS, a teacher, a captain of a Panamax container ship and a fellow who crossed the Atlantic solo - twice!

The class was also a great resource for my teaching and my own research interests such as the visibility of celestial objects in the daytime (Jupiter and Venus) and the effects of astronomical refraction near the horizon. I hope to take more workshops with Frank.

Dr. Russell D. Sampson
Wickware Planetarium
Eastern Connecticut State University
Sarah Ilsley wrote: 6/22/2013
I also took Frank's 19th Century Celestial navigation class. The instruction was thorough and I learned much more than I expected. Not only the techniques of celestial navigation, but a rich account of it's history as well. We had plenty of time to practice using sextants ourselves, and Frank did his best to make sure that each of us understood what he was teaching. He really knows his stuff!!

Also, the class was made more enjoyable through discussions with my other classmates during, and after the class had ended! You know a class is worthwhile when the learning continues outside of the classroom.
Amy Reifsnyder wrote: 6/22/2013
Thoroughly enjoyed the Celestial Nav class at Mystic Seaport. Very clear instruction, with patience and broad depth of understanding for all in attendance.
I highly recommend any of Frank's classes and workshops, since the guy knows what he's talking about, and he can explain it to folks with (or without) all kinds of math and physics backgrounds.

Plus, it's just plain fun to realize that all you have to do to find out where you are in the universe is "look up". Now that's just cool.
Philip M. Sadler wrote: 6/22/2013
What a joyful and stimulating experience to enroll in Frank Reed's class, Celestial Navigation: 19th Century Methods. Frank is a skillful and engaging teacher, able to draw students into this fascinating subject, whether they be novice or experienced. His depth of knowledge is tremendous. Participants get a real taste of what it was like to be aboard a sailing ship of the day. I learned much to enliven my own teaching and decode 19th century ship's logs. It is a rare experience, indeed, to have so much thoughtfulness, enthusiasm, and fun packed into two days. This is the way to learn!

Philip M. Sadler, Ed.D.
F.W. Wright Senior Lecturer in Celestial Navigation
Harvard University Astronomy Department
Cambridge, MA
Samuel S. Caldwell MD wrote: 6/25/2013
I thoroughly enjoyed Frank's first class in celestial navigation held at Mystic Seaport, and hope to be back for more.

Samuel S. Caldwell MD
Saratoga Springs, NY
Andrew Seligman wrote: 9/16/2013
I took Franks basic class at Mystic seaport. Frank is a fantastic instructor. He made the noon-sight and polaris sight reduction really easy!
Paul Krantz wrote: 1/30/2014
I took Frank's Easy Introductory Celestial Navigation by Noon Sun course and was impressed with both his in-depth knowledge and practical skills in the use of a sextant as well as his awareness of a sextant's limitations along with its advantages as a modern navigational instrument.

I am the author of a new release book, "Riding the Wild Ocean," a collection of my wildest adventures in small boats under twenty feet in length from Cape Cod to the Dry Tortugas. Although my craft is too small and unstable a platform for practical use of a sextant, my extensive experience sailing small boats on the open water enabled me to recognize the great extent to which Frank Reed's instruction reflects the wisdom of a long experienced and master seaman. I can confidently recommend any of his courses based on my delightful experience with this skilled and engaging educator.

In case anyone is interested, my book will be available in bookstores and online (Amazon) after March 11, 2014 but can be purchased now directly from the publisher at:

Paul S. Krantz, Jr.

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