Classes in celestial navigation and related topics
Easy Astro Photos
This class is not currently scheduled.
Learn to take the best possible photos of astronomical objects and sky phenomena from sunsets and rainbows to moon phases, earthshine, eclipses and other astronomical events using a smartphone and other basic digital cameras. There is an art and a science to Astro-Photography, and in this workshop we will cover both. You'll learn how to determine the Moon's correct azimuth and altitude using celestial navigation techniques to line it up perfectly with your favorite bridge, lighthouse, or maybe a vessel under sail. We will also discuss tricks with exposures and polarized light that can turn an average photo of the twilight sky into a spectacular astro-photo.
The science and tricks that let us take the perfect astro-photo also allow us to analyze modern and historical astro-photos. We will apply many of the tools of traditional celestial navigation to learn how to analyze photos of the stars, sun, and moon and figure out the exact date and locations of photographic images, both modern and historical, using astronomical clues. Every photo has a hidden story, and astronomy can often tell the tale.
Along the way in this workshop, we'll encounter some of the fake astro-photos that have gone viral, and we'll consider some not-so-real phenomena like the famous (infamous?) Supermoon and see how they fit in with backyard photographic methods.
- Single-day, 10am-4pm.
- Requirements: A smartphone or digital camera, and basic familiarity with the operation of your camera. Details will be provided to class participants by email.
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.