Classes in celestial navigation and related topics
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compare what we're doing with actual logbook entries and calculations in the collections of Mystic Seaport, bringing historical documents to life.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.
- Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, CT. Saturday/Sunday, 10:00am - 4:00pm both days,
(OR evening session 6:00 - 9:00pm each day).
- Requirements: Basic addition and subtraction. A good understanding of latitude and longitude on the globe.
- Recommended for ages 18 and up, students as young as age 13 welcome.
- Cost (subject to change): $140 ($125 for members of Mystic Seaport)
- Register for this class by phoning the Reservations desk at Mystic Seaport Museum: 860.572.5322, press 1 at the prompt.
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
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, Ed.D.
F.W. Wright Senior Lecturer in Celestial Navigation
Harvard University Astronomy Department
- By email or phone
© Copyright 2016, Frank Reed, Clockwork Mapping, Conanicut Island USA.