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Classes in celestial navigation and related topics

A vernier sextant - Frank Reed's collection Lunars - the Other Longitude The Moon as a clock in the sky Time Sight calculation from 1897 Margetts Tables The Geometry of Lunars

Celestial Navigation in the Age of Sail

A fast-paced introductory workshop in the history and the actual techniques of celestial navigation as it was practiced aboard American vessels in the Age of Sail. We'll learn how to take sights and work calculations, especially as done aboard Mystic Seaport's premier exhibit vessel, the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan. Examining original logbooks and navigational calculations from its voyages, we'll apply these same methods to modern navigation. In this class, we'll learn how to use and adjust sextants and octants, both historical instruments and their modern equivalents, and we'll learn the classic method of finding latitude by "Noon Sun". We'll also cover in detail the math of the "time sight" for finding longitude. Throughout, we will compare what we're doing with actual logbook entries and calculations in the collections of Mystic Seaport, bringing historical documents to life. Weather permitting, students will have opportunities to make actual sextant observations. This is real navigation, not just a class "about" navigation. Fast and intense, students who complete this class will have the basic celestial navigation skills to cross any ocean using the Sun, a sextant, and a few other simple tools, drawn directly from the 19th century. Taught by Frank Reed, a gifted teacher and one of the world's leading experts in celestial navigation.

Note: This class was formerly titled Celestial Navigation 19th Century Methods.


Comments:

3 posted.

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.
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

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