Classes in celestial navigation and related topics
Celestial Navigation Apps & Classes: 2020...
"A great opportunity to learn celestial navigation in an immersive environment under the guidance of a fantastic teacher, cartographer, and master navigator. Frank Reed's style integrates history, mechanics, observation, and the planetarium together to produce the best two-day course available, anywhere."
—Philip Sadler, Lecturer in Astronomy, Director Science Education, Harvard University.
Get my new app. Defeats GPS Spoofing and great for sight-training, too: instant feedback with no paperwork at all. There's a standard version (free on Android, inexpensive on iPhone/iPad) that works with Sun, Venus, and Polaris sights and can function for three to seven days without network access. If you're serious about your navigation, then get the PRO version which includes the Sun, Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Polaris and all 57 standard "navigational stars" and works offshore and off-network for months at a time.
- GPS Anti Spoof Pro for iPhone/iPad and Android.
- GPS Anti Spoof (standard) for iPhone/iPad and Android.
Note: Most of the workshops listed below have been previously taught at Mystic Seaport Museum, Boston Community Boating, Hudson River Maritime Museum, URI Bay Campus, and other venues. All are now offered as online sessions, which have proven to be extremely successful. These are high-quality, professional online workshops matching as nearly as possible the content in my live classes.
Upcoming Classes — Summer 2020:
Celestial Navigation in the Age of Sail
Real celestial navigation from the historical perspective of the Age of Sail. Details on sextant observations with historical instruments and historical pencil and paper calculations, just as it was done aboard American sailing vessels in the late 19th century. more...
- Register July 27,28,29: Online Workshop, Broadcast from Conanicut Island USA
Lunars: Finding Longitude by Lunar Distances
Learn to shoot and clear "lunars", long considered the ultimate test of a celestial navigator. Challenging and intricate, lunars are also a window into the fascinating early history of navigation. more...
- Register (dates changed) August 10,11,12: Online Workshop, Broadcast from Conanicut Island USA
Note: We offer excellent institutional referral arrangements. Send students to our online workshops and get paid for it. If you represent an institution —a school, a museum, a planetarium, a sailing club— and you would like to provde access to any of our celestial navigation workshops, then let's talk. There are always options. Any of our workshops and classes can also run as private tutorials.
All of our classes travel. If you know an institution —a school, a museum, a planetarium, a sailing club— who could host us and bring in students and other attendees, then let's talk. There are always options. Any of our workshops and classes can also run as a private tutorial. We can come to your location on your schedule. Contact us if you're interested.
A frequently asked question: "They all sound good - which class should I take?"
Of the various introductory classes above, if you're completely new to the subject or if you're looking for something with minimal math (there's always some math in celestial navigation), then try our Easy Introductory workshop.
If you're interested in history, old logbooks, and perhaps a bit more interested in mathematical details, too, then sign up for Celestial Navigation in the Age of Sail (formerly called "19th Century Methods").
If you're more practically oriented, more pragmatic, not much interested in historical details, and mostly looking for a last-resort backup or a cross-check of your GPS, then sign up for Modern Celestial Navigation.
Finally, if you're looking for pure paper and pencil methods closest to the standard techniques taught at maritime schools and required by many licenses, then try our Traditional Celestial Navigation workshop.
All of these will give you real, usable navigational skills and methods. While each of these classes stands on its own, they also make a nice series curriculum, providing an overview of celestial navigation in different styles and eras.
Lieutenant, USN sep.
Frank taught an incredible class on celestial navigation that brought me from novice to some solid understanding of sextants, their history and most importantly their use as a aid to seeing the sea...and knowing where you are on this planet!
Hands on, wealth of knowledge, great resources at Mystic Seaport, he really covered a lot of ground! There was a lot of math but unlike in my youth, I was on the edge of my seat to soak up knowledge!! Frank made it relatable and real. The sextant which is such an iconic tool of the sea, was demystified. By the end of class i felt comfortable with it. I had mastered how it worked, how to read it and how to adjust it to insure its accuracy.
I came away with all of the cheat sheets and understandings of equations and concepts that breathe the life into what you capture through your sextant sightings.
I would highly recommend Frank and believe the Mystic Seaport with its planetarium, an ideal setting for my class with him discovering this timeless tool of the sea.
Frank did a great job keeping the class interesting with visual aids, both on screen and out on the seaport grounds. Frank had also noticed i was interested in the Draken. This is the Viking ship which had made its voyage across the Atlantic and up and down the east coast, resting for winter in Mystic as the troops regroup, gathering resources for another ocean voyage. He took extra time to talk about and show with polarized film the concept of the "Viking Sun Stone" which is a suspected navigational aide the Vikings may have used to traverse the globe as they had.
All in all i would highly recommend this class to any and all folks interested in learning about navigation and sextants. Informative and digestible, but most of all useful to the point where i am comfortable with the instrument and have the formulas needed to continuing to set my sights on the horizon!!
I look forward to more classes to learn more from Frank and strengthen my understandings of celestial navigation!
Several things stand out. The course material is presented in a balanced way, with a well thought mixture of detailed calculation, broken up by historical, factual, and hands-on aspects. This type of teaching is well suited to most, as it provides periods of more intense reasoning with relaxation and humor. Anyone can walk away with new-found knowledge. I also feel that the approach of understanding historical context and a simple practical approach is unique. It has gone a great way toward clearing up a lot of my preconceived ideas and confusions resulting from the many contradictory or esoteric approaches found in various volumes or on the internet.
Very simply, I learned a lot and it went a long way toward clearing up a mess. I was fascinated the whole time. The courses and NavList provide the tools to keep learning even after the course is over. I left able to measure what I see with a more calibrated eye for real world application, and a greater appreciation of human history. I can strongly recommend these classes for the curious, the fascinated, the historian, the hardcore navigator, or the armchair one. There is something in them for all.
I also found the NavList community to be helpful and encouraging as my journey continues. I hope I can undertake even more material in additional courses in the future.
"There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats" (Kenneth Grahame, from the "Wind in the Willows")
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
Eastern Connecticut State University
Philip M. Sadler, Ed.D.
F.W. Wright Senior Lecturer in Celestial Navigation
Harvard University Astronomy Department
© Copyright 2020, Frank Reed, Clockwork Mapping, Conanicut Island USA.