Celestial Navigation

I can’t quite take credit for this great article, but since it’s penned by my husband and a friend who joined us as crew from Panama to the Galapagos Islands, I wanted to mention it here. For the recreational navigator, the beauty of celestial navigation often becomes obscured by a maze of numbers and a lack of confidence. In this article, Markus introduces a few pragmatic tweaks to the old art, putting the focus back on those friendly stars and our sextant. Why not get more fun and insight out of practicing celestial navigation on board while mastering a new skill?

Here’s an excerpt to give you the flavor of the piece, which is fairly technical, but not over the top:

There are few things quite as satisfying as fixing your position by measuring the altitude of a few heavenly bodies. With no other landmarks around, stars and planets help to put a face on an otherwise featureless expanse of ocean — they become our friends at sea during the night. Even though there may no longer be a pressing need to use celestial navigation in the age of GPS, it seems a good way to stay in touch with our “friends.”

For the recreational navigator, the beauty of celestial navigation often becomes obscured by a maze of numbers and a lack of confidence. In this article, we introduce a few pragmatic tweaks to the old art, putting the focus back on those friendly stars and our sextant. Why not get more fun and insight out of practicing celestial navigation on board while mastering a new skill?

The approach we outline below can be applied to any celestial sight. It is particularly useful for fixing your position by observing multiple stars or planets at twilight. While the good old sun sight certainly has its value, there is a special reward in the instant gratification of finding your position without the uncertainties of a running fix.

That gives you a sense of where the article goes. The full article was recently published in Ocean Navigator magazine - you can find it at this LINK or as a chapter in our book, Pacific Crossing Notes, which sells for less than the price of a couple of cold beers in the tropics.

Enjoy your sights and those cloudless nights on the water!