Classes in celestial navigation and related topics
Modern Celestial TWO: Position Fixes & Star Sights
- Register October 28, 29: on-site weekend session, 10:00am - 4:00pm each day, at Mystic Seaport Museum.
This is not your grandparents' celestial navigation! In this workshop we focus on celestial for the 21st century, applying traditional sextant sights to modern ocean sailing. In Modern Celestial TWO we continue directly on the modern sight analysis from Modern Celestial ONE using streamlined, algorithms, and we learn how to find general position fixes from the Sun and also star sights under all conditions. We cross lines of position to get a fix in latitude and longitude during the day with the Sun, during twilight with stars, and even in the middle of the night under the right conditions. And we learn how to manage errors and assess the reliability of a celestial fix.
If you're dreaming about a trans-oceanic voyage or a circum-navigation, in this workshop you'll learn all the techniques to determine latitude and longitude anywhere on Earth using the Sun and key navigational stars. We learn how to adjust celestial lines of position for vessel motion and synchronize Sun and star sights taken at different times for a running fix.
And we'll learn the stars under the dome of the Treworgy Planetarium. Many navigators give up on the stars and never learn to identify even the brightest stars like Vega, or Arcturus, or Canopus, let alone Rasalhague or Zubenelgenubi! By the end of this course, you'll know reliable methods and tricks for identifying more than two dozen of the key stars of celestial navigation, enough to sail the globe safely for decades. Valuable as much in coastal navigation as in mid-ocean, a navigator who knows the stars follows a perfect compass all night long.
$199 per person, per workshopRegister.
Created, developed, and taught by Frank Reed, a gifted teacher and one of the world's leading experts in celestial navigation and nautical astronomy.
- Saturday & Sunday, 10am-4pm both days.
- Before this workshop: Modern Celestial ONE is strongly recommended, or equivalent background in introductory celestial navigation and sextant use.
- Some math you'll need: Introductory algebra concepts and a little bit of basic trigonometry; strong familiarity with latitude and longitude.
- Recommended for ages 18 and up, students as young as age 13 welcome.
- You'll need to purchase the recommended scientific calculator for the class: the Casio fx-260 Solar (original or newer "II" model). These are widely available for less than $15 at Walmart, Staples, and other stores.
I must admit I dreaded two, back-to-back, 5-hour days, but the time sailed by. (Sorry can't resist.) Thank you.
He also included some 17th century data that I needed. I'm neither a mathematician nor a sailer, but a journalist and author.
Fascinating classes taught by a fascinating and capable instructor.
Lunars class is challenging and fun. Frank presents several different recipes for accomplishing lunars, one of which seems almost easy (kind of). Highly recommended for anyone interested in celestial navigation or nautical navigation history.
FAA Designated Pilot Examiner
Retired Merchant Mariner
SUNY Maritime class of 80
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
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