2. Why celestial navigation?
Understanding navigation, emergency & maintaining skills
Instances where electronic failure due lighting strikes, flooding and other disasters are often documented. Even battery powered handhelds can fail when the batteries run down. Hence it’s advantageous to have some knowledge of celestial navigation for back-up. Furthermore celestial navigation is also the only reliable means of checking the gyro at sea. In a Discovery channel documentary, a navigating officer in one of the world’s most sophisticated ship was shown taking an evening star sight. When enquired why, he was quoted as saying, “Everything can fail but not the stars.” Thus celestial navigation is still important in present day navigation systems.
How is it possible to contemplate an 18th century brass and ebony sextant, and not wonder what it was like to peer through it at the heavens; to bring an evening star down to a twilight horizon from the deck of a tall ship? To sense the approval of those who witness this magic-like prowess. To triumph at land-fall well predicted? To know he can navigate any ocean with no help from anyone? Celestial navigation is one of the oldest of traditional arts and it would be a tremendous loss if it were to die out.
Knowing the night sky is like having a giant roadmap overhead. What could be as satisfying as steering by a star or identifying constellations and planets on a clear starry night? In addition, it is interesting that one can estimate one’s latitude in the Northern Hemisphere by measuring the altitude of the pole star. Furthermore, on a more aesthetic sense, the night sky is breath-takingly beautiful especially when seen from a place where there is little light pollution.
Perpective of Life
Celestial navigation as a whole provides a wealth of wonderful images and language to enliven the way we speak about, and understand, the direction of our lives.
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